What does archeology have in common with medical diagnostics? Methods of scanning. Exactly the same CT apparatus, which is now practically in every hospital, can reveal many secrets of ancient civilizations. A similar method in archeology, as in medicine, is called “non-invasive”: it helps to investigate fragile artifacts without penetrating or damaging them. There are 10 discoveries in the field of archeology made with the help of a scanner.
A set of Viking tools was discovered during excavations in the Danish ring-like fortress Borgring in 2016 with a metal detector. The wooden box containing the tools was not preserved, so, in order not to damage the ancient artifacts, archaeologists had to get them together with a large piece of land. In this form, the entire design was immediately sent to the nearest hospital – for scanning on CT. Surprisingly, the medical staff immediately agreed to use their equipment, which, in the end, showed that they have the largest find in the history of excavations in the fort. There were 14 tools in the box, among them metal drills, tweezers and staples. Most likely, they belonged to a carpenter who lived in the castle. Iron was considered a great value in the days of the Vikings, and this is the first time when a full-fledged tool kit was found right at the site of the Vikings’ work.
Lost roads of England. One of the symbols of the presence of Roman conquerors on the lands they seized is perfectly designed roads. England was no exception, where in the first century of our era the Romans left behind an impressive network of roads. But the stones were either destroyed by time, or used for other purposes, and the roads practically disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving no information about the travels of the Roman army. In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency in the United Kingdom laid out 72% of the land for scanning. The project, created to study coastal lines and control floods, helped archaeologists discover the missing roads of the Roman conquest times.
Health inhabitants of Pompeii. In 79 AD Vesuvius stopped the treacherous life in Pompeii. So, what is left of the once great city, is a tasty morsel for any archaeologist. And recently, in 2015, scientists were able to look inside the remains of humans and animals, found among the ruins. Before the study allows us to study the outer surfaces face the residents of Pompeii and gave information about what kind of clothes they wore. But a full scan to tell much more. However, equipment that was used when scanning, given the chance to consider only the head and chest, but this is already a lot. So, it turned out that the condition of the teeth of dead citizens of Pompeii was much better than any modern man – it means that the representatives of the Roman Empire to eat right, which is contrary to the usual ugly myths about feasts of the Roman elite.
How did Lucy die? The most ancient remains of an adult human ancestor are the skeleton of the skeleton of Lucy, the afar australopithecus, found in Ethiopia in 1974. The subject of heated scientific disputes until recently remained the question: what destroyed Lucy 3.18 million years ago, and yet – being straight-legged, did Lucy keep her ancestors’ ability to deftly climb trees? The answer to both riddles was given by only one scan. In 2016, a high-resolution CT scan showed that Lucy had died from numerous injuries. Fractures and cracks in the pelvis, ribs, shoulders, other bones, and their character indicated that Lucy died when falling from a height of at least 10 m, presumably from a tree. It turns out that the ability of Australopithecus to move in a vertical position weakened their ability to climb trees.
The Black Sea Flood, according to a scientific hypothesis, occurred about 5600 years BC. – perhaps it was he who became the historical basis for the legends of the Flood. Robert Ballard, a famous oceanographer who discovered the fragments of the Titanic in 1985, undertook research in this area. In 2000, a scientist equipped an expedition to investigate the bottom of the Black Sea. Working near the Turkish city of Sinop, the Ballard team used a deep-water sonar, which allows studying large areas of the bottom and finding various objects there. For a more detailed study, a robotic submarine was launched, which found and photographed several antique ships at a depth of 90 m, stone tools, remains of ceramics and – most surprisingly – a collapsed building with a preserved foundation of 3.7 by 7.6 m and remains of a roof. Perhaps, when the Black Sea was just a freshwater lake, an unknown civilization lived on its shores, which was destroyed by a natural disaster approximately 7 thousand years ago.
The earthquake in San Diego, which happened in 1800, hid its cause for more than 200 years. Seismologists could not determine what caused the magnitude of 6.5 points. In 2012, scientists undertook the task, armed with a special laser scanner to study the fault line of the earth’s crust. The technique allowed to explore the soil even where it was covered with dense vegetation. The laser scanner told that a powerful earthquake caused a Clark Strand fault. Such information is extremely important for further seismological forecasts.
Pyramid Matryoshka. Pyramid of Kukulkan is one of the most ancient architectural constructions of the ancient sacred city of Mayan Chichen Itza. In 1930, archaeologists discovered inside the famous pyramid another, a small pyramid, built into a large, like a nesting doll. In 2015, under the pyramid, an underground lake was discovered. A year after this discovery, the scan pointed to another pyramid inside the second one. The height of each of them is 10 m less than the previous one: 30, 20 and 10 m, respectively. A mysterious find was captured thanks to a three-dimensional tomography.
An imaginary hawk. When the Maidstone Museum received a solid grant, it was decided to refresh the collection dedicated to ancient civilizations. To this end, the museum staff sent many artifacts to the Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery for CT examination. Among the exhibits was the so-called “mummified hawk, the Ptolemaic period (323 BC – 30 BC)”. It was believed that the mummy of a bird at the age of about 2300 years rests in the sarcophagus. But the CT results shocked the experts. Instead of a predatory hawk, a tiny mummy was a human fetus thrown out at the age of 20 weeks of intrauterine development. Why was the child mummified like a bird? According to one version, it was an illegitimate child of the pharaoh, and the participants in the events wanted to avoid a scandal. And this is another proof that you should not believe everything that is written – even if it is in the museum.
The skull of Shakespeare was probably kidnapped: this “festive” discovery was made by scientists in the year of the 400th anniversary of the great poet. In 1879 an article was published in a British magazine, where it was said that Shakespeare’s skull was stolen from a shallow grave in the 18th century. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford, where William Shakespeare was buried, did not allow any archaeological work until in 2016 scientists proposed scanning. Penetrating through the layers of ground radar showed signs of repair (or opening) of the head of the burial, so the theory of abduction of the skull now sounds not so unfounded. In addition, the radar did not detect any metal objects. This means that Shakespeare was buried not in a coffin (where there would be nails), but simply wrapped in a cloth.
The invisible Angkor Wat. The huge temple complex in Cambodia was considered one of the largest temples in the world. But modern methods of research, in particular laser scanning, have discovered something incredible – Angkor Wat has been at times, ten times more than we see it now. Studying the Cambodian jungle with a scanner, scientists “lit up” new buildings. It turned out that the area of the complex was not 200 square kilometers, but 3,000 square kilometers. Previously it was believed that Angkor Vata was inhabited only by noble people, but recently discovered huge territories indicate that most likely, to the complex we knew, there was a whole district where those who served the main temple center lived. The remains of the city were hidden by the jungle, so only a scan from the helicopter helped to find them.