Scientists and archaeologists are making new, incredible discoveries all the time about the history of Earth’s civilizations. Here are some of the most important–and the most bizarre–findings.
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3. Lead Books Found in Jordan
In 2008, 70 books–or codices–were uncovered in a remote cave in Jordan. The pages are crafted of lead and appear to be almost unreadable, bound together on rings. To an outside observer, they may not look like much, but this was a find that could change the way ancient Christianity is studied and maybe even how we perceive Jesus Christ himself. Through rigorous testing, all 70 books were determined to be genuine and date to the first century AD, making them 2,000 years old. The books reference the apostles John, Peter, and James as well as the earliest mentions of Jesus Christ–even including a portrait of him. The writings in the codices suggest that Jesus was not beginning a new religion; rather, he was continuing a thousand-year-old religion begun during the time of King David, a religion that worshipped a God who was both male and female. One of the book has seven seals, matching the description of a codex mentioned in the Book of Revelation. These are the earliest known Hebrew-Christian documents, which means they could provide valuable information for those practicing Christianity, Islam, or Judaism.
2. The Library of Ashurbanipal
It is said that this was the library which inspired Alexander the Great to build the great library of Alexandria, all of which has been lost. This library, however, sometimes called “the first library” or “the oldest library” in the world, still exists and 30,000 tablets of literature, medical texts, and more have been recovered from its shelves. The library dates to the 7th century BC and is today located in northern Iraq, near Mosul. During its time, it would have been located in the ancient city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria in Mesopotamia. Ashurbanipal was motivated to create the library because his childhood education allowed him to learn to read and write, as he was not originally expected to take the throne. During his reign, Mesopotamia expanded to include Egypt, Babylon, Persia and Syria. For this reason, the texts included in the library are of incredible significance to understanding the history of these places. Finally, among the tablets found in the library, is one that nearly everyone is familiar with: The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is considered one of the earliest great pieces of literature.
1. Gobekli Tepe (teep)
The discovery of this temple in modern-day Turkey is an incredible archaeological find that could force scientists to rethink the timeline of human civilization as we know it. The temple has been carbon-dated to be around 11,000 years old, having been constructed around 9600 BC. Civilizations as we know them, with beginnings in Egypt and Mesopotamia, did not begin until around 3000 BC, about 5000 years ago. But this temple was clearly built with care and a ton of hard work, supposedly with the intention of making it a place of worship. The temple consists of two 10-foot pillars in its center, decorated with carvings of animals and more identifiable icons. Bones at the temple suggest there were once sacrifices here. The temple then goes outward in rings, with more pillars inside each ring. The building of this temple would have predated writing, pottery-making, metalworking, and according to previous estimates, organized worship. The mystery of the site continues as crude Neolithic tools were found, which were made of flint. But how were such tools used to carve pillars that weigh around 40-60 tons? And how did they move these pillars to the site of the temple? The questions continue, but one thing is certain: The discovery of this temple could lead to incredible answers about the evolution of society.