Whether it involves building a new structure, fixing water lines, or doing any kind of construction that requires digging into the Earth, chances are, something out of the ordinary is going to be uncovered in the process. Although it isn’t always anything particularly special, at times these finds are unbelievable, such as the remains of a dead king or an entire mansion buried beneath a city. Take a look at some of the most incredible things discovered at work sites that make construction look more like archeology.
A Byzantine Church Found Beneath A Highway
When construction workers were performing routine maintenance on a modern highway, the remains of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine Church was discovered along what was once an ancient road. Located near Jerusalem, the church contained decorative white marble flooring and a crucifix-shaped pool for baptizing.
Other items were discovered as well, including oil lamps, pearl shells, glass jars, and more. Upon discovery, Netivei Israel, the National Transportation Infrastructure Company, halted work and has preserved the site for public viewing and historical study.
Dozens Of Coffins Beneath A Philadelphia Apartment Building
In March of 2017, as crews were working on the foundation of an apartment complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they unearthed around two dozen fully intact bodies encapsulated in coffins. It is believed that the coffins were part of a burial ground nearby from the 18th century First Baptist Church.
Apparently, when the church was moved around 1860, workers were supposed to remove the bodies from the burial ground but failed to do so entirely. The bodies were examined, documented, and re-buried in Mount Moriah Cemetary.
60,000-Year-Old Wooly Mammoth Tusk Found Beneath A Residential Building
In the state of Washington, beneath a residential building in Seattle, a fossilized tusk of a Columbian Mammoth was found. The tusk beneath the structure measured in at over eight feet long and after being assessed by paleontologists, it was estimated that the fossil was at least 60,000 years old.
The company AMLI, which owned the land and building, halted work and called in experts for the mysterious find to be analyzed. The tusk now resides at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.
Medieval Hospital Beneath Future Apple Store
When the bubonic plague ravaged Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries, hospitals became so overwhelmed with victims that many were abandoned after they ran out of physicians. In 2013, in Madrid, Spain, the foundation of one of these abandoned hospitals was found during the excavation for a new Apple Store.
The hospital dates back to the 15th century and was discovered to have been used to house those inflicted with the plague. Although it continued to be used well into the 18th century, it was torn down in the 1850s.
Dinosaur Eggs During A Road Repair In China
Over the years, people in the Chinese city of Heyuan have uncovered thousands of fossilized dinosaur eggs. Since 1996, more than 17,000 eggs have been discovered, by civilians more so than paleontologists. The first group of them to be found were by children playing in a construction site, and they initially mistook the eggs for stones.
Forty-six more eggs were discovered by construction workers repairing a road. They called in experts to investigate. A total of 19 of the 46 eggs were completely intact with the majority coming from oviraptorids, which roamed the earth 89 million years ago.
19th-Century Time Capsule Under A Scottish Bridge
In 2015, at the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland, a time capsule from 1894 was uncovered by construction workers while they performed maintenance on the Ruthven Road Bridge. The capsule was a metal box that contained a bottle of whiskey, a scroll, a newspaper from 1894, and several other small items.
The capsule was handed over to Highland Folk Museum for study, where it was deduced that it had been placed in the bridge during its construction.
Mummy Beneath A Chinese Road
In 2011, a preserved mummy of a woman was uncovered beneath a road in the city of Taizhou, in the Jiangsu Province of eastern China. After close analysis, it was revealed that the woman was a member of the Ming Dynasty.
Under five-feet-tall, the woman was dressed in fine clothing with her hair and eyebrows still preserved. It was further discovered by Wang Weiyin, the director of the Taizhou Museum, that the mummy was around 700 years old.
A World War II-Era Letter To Santa Claus In A Chimney
Even during one of the most horrific times in modern human history, the spirit of Christmas was still alive. When contractor Lewis Shaw was demolishing the chimney of an old home located in Caversham, Reading, Berkshire, England, he found a piece of paper. The folded up paper turned out to be a letter to Santa Claus from a little boy named David written in 1943.
The note read: “Dear Father Christmas, Please can you send me a Rupert annual, and a drum box of chalks, soldiers and Indians, slippers and any little toys you have to spare, Love David.” After a social media campaign, it was discovered David was alive and the letter was returned to him.
12th-Century Mansion Beneath An English Town
In 2013, during a housing development project in the town of Wellington, England, the foundation of a 12th-century mansion was unearthed. Back then, people with large estates would still have deeds and papers for their property, but none were found here.
Although no information on the owner was available, the painting of a knight on the tile is similar to some at Glastonbury Abbey, making the discovery all the more unique. Anything recovered from the site was moved to the Museum of Somerset for evaluation.
The Lost Remains Of A Medieval King
King Richard III was the King of England and the Lord of Ireland from 1483 until his death in 1485. He died at the Battle of Bosworth Field, and it was believed his body was taken by the enemy, although accounts of what happened to it afterward vary.
However, in 2012, researchers and archeologists discovered a skeleton beneath a parking lot in the city of Leicester. The remains were believed to belong to Richard III. After radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, and DNA and bone analysis, it was confirmed that it was the former King of England. The remains were then taken and interred in Leicester Cathedral.
African Burial Ground Covered By Manhattan
In 1991, the goal to build a new federal building in lower Manhattan started with excavation near what is now Chinatown. During the process, a 17th-century burial ground was unearthed, containing the remains of slaves from the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.
Construction was halted for the area to be excavated and the bodies were removed, with some of the remains determined to have living relatives. In 1993, the site was established as a national historic landmark and then as a national monument in 2006.
Mayan Sports Arena Discovered During Construction Of A Housing Project
During a housing project development in Yucatán, Mexico, in 2006, the remains of an ancient Mayan ballgame court were discovered. Initially unsure of what the finding was, the National Institute of Anthropology was called in.
Experts Fernando Acevedo and Donato Martin España learned that the ball court was over 2,500 years old and was massive, measuring in 82-feet long and 15-feet wide. With sports being such a prevalent aspect of Mayan culture, the site was saved and named as a historical location.
Unexploded RAF Bomb In Berlin
During World War II, Allied efforts dropped over 3.4 million tons of explosives in enemy territories. It’s estimated that around fifteen percent of these bombs never actually exploded, with many of them disappearing during reconstruction after the war was over.
In 2016, on Christmas Day in Schwabian of Augsburg, Bavaria, a two-ton World War II RAF bomb was discovered beneath a construction site and 54,000 people were immediately evacuated. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence in Europe and other parts of the world that were involved with the war.
The Lost Temple Of Pharaoh Ptolemy IV
When construction workers were drilling a new sewage drain in Kom Shakau village in Tama township in northern Sohag in Egypt, the 2,200-year-old lost temple of Pharaoh Ptolemy IV was uncovered. On October 2, 2019, it was announced by the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, that construction had ceased.
After the team had discovered limestone inscriptions with Ptolemy IV’s name, it was determined that it was indeed the temple that was believed to have been lost.
Cemetery Found During The Excavation of A Pool
In New Orleans in 2011, Vincent Marcello was unsure of what he would find when he decided to build a swimming pool, so he hired archaeologist Ryan Gray to excavate the area beforehand. Turns out that Marcello was right in doing so, and Gray found 15 wooden coffins beneath where the swimming pool was supposed to go.
They were part of the Saint Peter Cemetery of New Orleans, with other bodies being discovered in a nearby location in the 1980s. The coffins were extracted and taken to Louisiana State University to be studied.
A Whale Skeleton Far From Water
When construction workers were digging a new railroad in Vermont in 1849, they discovered the skeleton of a white whale 250 miles inland from the nearest coast. Seeing that the unusual remains were over 20 feet long, they knew it was time to notify experts.
The experts brought in were beside themselves considering how far the marine mammal was from the ocean and how there were no waterways anywhere nearby. In the end, they concluded that the whale skeleton was over 11,000 years old and lived when that part of the land was underwater. The find is now referred to as the “Charlotte Whale.”
A Mass Grave Of Viking Remains
While working on a construction site on the side of the road in Dorset, UK, a burial pit of what appeared to be more than 50 executed Viking warriors was found. Archeologists found that there were two separate sections of the pit, with one containing skulls and the other the rest of the bodies.
Analysis by experts showed that the remains came from Scandinavian countries and that the victims had been executed sometime between 910 and 1030 AD.
Pablo Escobar’s Secret Safe
Around 29 years ago, the United States government seized one of cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar’s estates in Miami Beach, Florida. The property was eventually put back on the market and finally purchased. However, the new owner decided to tear down the structure, and in the process discovered something peculiar.
As the final parts of the house were being torn down, the workers discovered a hidden safe. Knowing Pablo Escobar, anything could have been in there. Unfortunately, details about its contents were never released to the public.
Gold And Silver Walls
When Giuseppe Cadili and Valeria Giarusso purchased an apartment in Palermo, Italy, they hired contractors to knock down some of the walls to give the home some more space. During the process, they noticed something odd about the foundation of the walls.
After scrubbing it down, they were surprised to see that the walls were covered in ornate gold and silver paintings. According to researchers, the apartment once belonged to a North African merchant in the 1700s.
A Drain Pipe Installation That Led To A Pot Of Gold
In 2018, when utility workers in the Netherlands were laying a drainpipe, they discovered a literal pot of gold. The collection they found consisted of 500 gold coins dating back to the 15th century, with 12 of them being silver.
According to archeologist Peter de Boer, the coins were from the 1470s and 1480s, displaying the likenesses of King Henry VI of England, Pope Paul II, and the Bishop of Utrecht, David of Burgandy. Although the coins still needed to be appraised, it was agreed that they would be returned to the company that found them and the person who owned the land.