This year, archaeologists dug up a wealth of treasures that unveiled not only some strange practices (like building a pyramid within a pyramid within a pyramid) but also some of the long-held secrets of well-known artifacts. From new Dead Sea Scrolls to the youngest mummy ever found in Egypt, to a 1,500-year-old stone complex the size of 200 American football fields to the tomb of Jesus, here’s a look at the biggest archaeology stories of 2016.
2. Noah’s ark mosaic
A mosaic depicting the story of Noah’s ark was discovered this year within an ancient synagogue at the site of Huqoq in Israel. In the mosaic, the ark can be seen along with pairs of animals, including lions, bears and leopards. Another panel of the mosaic depicts the story of the parting of the Red Sea, showing ancient Egyptian soldiers, who were surrounded by overturned chariots, being eaten by giant fish.
3. Egypt’s youngest mummy
A miniature coffin in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, holds what appears to be the youngest known Egyptian mummy. The coffin, made of cedar wood, was discovered at Giza in 1907 and dates back more than 2,500 years.
The fetus inside the coffin was only 16-18 weeks old after the time of gestation (when it was conceived) and likely died from a miscarriage. The coffin, which has tiny carvings on it, had been in the museum for over a century, but curators had assumed that it probably held internal organs from someone who was mummified. Not until CT scans were performed was the occupant of the tiny coffin revealed.