The 9 Biggest Archaeology Findings of 2016

4. Virtually unwrapped scroll

Using a series of CT scans, scientists were able to “virtually unwrap” a burnt Dead Sea Scroll dating back around 1,700 years. The charred scroll was discovered in 1970 at the site of En Gedi near the Dead Sea in Israel. The well-known “Dead Sea Scrolls” were discovered between 1947 and 1956 at another site, this one called Qumran, also near the Dead Sea.

The En Gedi scroll’s charred state made it extremely fragile and impossible to physically unwrap. The scans revealed the text of the scroll, which consists of part of the Book of Leviticus. The precise date of the scroll isn’t clear, though it appears to date back around 1,700 years or possibly a bit earlier, the researchers said. A similar CT-scan technique was used in 2015 to read charred 2,000-year-old scrolls from the site of Herculaneum in Italy.

5. Pyramid within a pyramid within a pyramid

Archaeologists discovered that the El Castillo pyramid at Chichén Itzá in Mexico actually consists of a pyramid within a pyramid within a pyramid. The outermost pyramid was constructed sometime between 950 and 1000, while the pyramid within that pyramid was constructed sometime between 850 and 900, and a pyramid within that was constructed sometime between 600 and 800.

To make the discovery, scientists conducted an electrical resistivity survey of the outermost pyramid. Electrical resistivity is a widely used technique in archaeology, in which electrical currents are passed through a structure, or the ground, and the resistance encountered by the currents is measured. These measurements are then used to help determine what lies underneath a surface.

6. Ancient Egyptian boat tableau

More than 120 boat carvings were discovered within a structure at the site of Abydos, in Egypt, that dates back more than 3,800 years. The structure is located near the tomb of pharaoh Senwosret III.

The largest carvings are nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and show “large, well-rendered boats depicted with masts, sails, rigging, deckhouses/cabins, rudders, oars and in some cases rowers,” wrote expedition leader Josef Wegner in an article published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology this year. Inside the structure, archaeologists also found planks that they said are likely from a wooden boat that used to be inside the structure.

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