Top 10 Best of Archaeology 2010

1. Dead Sea Scrolls Mystery Solved?

The recent decoding of a cryptic cup, the excavation of ancientJerusalem tunnels, and other archaeological detective work may help solve one of the great biblical mysteries: Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The new clues, revealed in July, hint that the scrolls, which include some of the oldest known biblical documents, may have been the textual treasures of several groups, hidden away during wartime—and may even be "the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple," which held the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible.

2. Noah's Ark Found?

A team of evangelical Christian explorers claimed they'd found the remains of Noah's ark beneath snow and volcanic debris on Turkey's Mount Ararat (pictured) in April.
But some archaeologists and historians took the latest claim that Noah's ark had been found about as seriously as they had past ones—not very.

3. Shapes Reveal "Lost" Amazon World

Hundreds of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes once hidden by forest hint at a previously unknown ancient society that flourished in the Amazon, according to a study released in January.
Satellite images of the upper Amazon River Basin taken since 1999 have revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks spanning a distance greater than 155 miles (250 kilometers).
The researchers behind the January study, though, estimated that nearly ten times as many such structures—of unknown purpose—may exist undetected under the Amazon's forest cover.

4. Lasers Reveal Maya City

Airborne lasers have "stripped" away thick rain forests to reveal new images of an ancient Maya metropolis that's far bigger than anyone had thought.
An April 2009 flyover of the Maya city of Caracol used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment—which bounces laser beams off the ground—to help scientists construct a 3-D map of the settlement in western Belize.
The survey revealed previously unknown buildings, roads, and other features in just four days, scientists announced in May at the International Symposium on Archaeometry in Tampa, Florida. (Read about the rise and fall of the Maya in National Geographic magazine.)

5. "Mythical" Temple Found

A thousand-year-old temple complex (including a tomb with human sacrifice victims, shown in a digital illustration) has been found under the windswept dunes of northwestern Peru, archaeologists announced in January.
The discovery of the complex, excavated near the city of Chiclayo (map) between 2006 and late 2009, injected a dose of reality into the legend of Naylamp, the god who supposedly founded the pre-Inca Lambayeque civilization in the eighth century A.D., following the collapse of the Moche civilization.

6. King Tut DNA Results

King Tut (depicted above on a "coffinette," which held some of his organs) may be seen as the golden boy of ancient Egypt today. But during his reign, Tutankhamun wasn't exactly a strapping sun god.
Instead, a DNA study released in February reported, King Tut was a frail pharaoh, beset by malaria and a bone disorder—his health possibly compromised by his newly discovered incestuous origins. (King Tut Pictures: DNA Study Reveals Health Secrets.)

7. 12 Ancient Landmarks Vanishing

Damaged frescoes in the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents tell a story of neglect in the medieval city of Ani, now part of Turkey.
Sitting in a militarized zone near the current Turkish-Armenianborder, the city is one of 12 cultural sites on the verge of collapse, according to a report released in October by the San Francisco, California-based Global Heritage Fund.

8. Titanic Falling Apart

In a picture released September 1—the 25th anniversary of the rediscovery of the R.M.S. Titanic—rust "icicles" plague bow railings and anchor equipment on the 2.4-mile-deep (3.8-kilometer-deep) shipwreck.
This and other images of Titanic taken in late August are among the first results of the ongoing Expedition Titanic. Its goals: to use acoustic imaging, sonar, and 3-D video to virtually preserve Titanic in its current state and to help determine just how far gone the shipwreck is and how long it might last.

9. "Time Capsule" Hut Revealed

Nearly a century after Capt. Robert Falcon Scott explored the southern continent, experts are working to save the British explorer's wooden hut (pictured on Ross Island, Antarctica, in August 2006) and three others in the area from slipping under the snow forever.
The sanctuary measures 50 feet (15 meters) long and 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide and was built to house up to 33 men.
Scott and his crew stayed at the hut before their ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in January 1912. Scott and four others died after being beaten to the pole by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.

10. Pharaoh's Secret Tunnel Explored

Standing on wooden steps that protect a 3,300-year-old stone staircase, Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass poses in 2009 in a mysterious tunnel that links the ancient tomb of Pharaoh Seti I to ... nothing.
After three years of hauling out rubble and artifacts via a railway-car system (rails visible at left), the excavators hit a wall, the team announced in July. It seems the ancient workers who created the steep tunnel under Egypt's Valley of the Kings near Luxor (map) abruptly stopped after cutting 572 feet (174 meters) into rock.

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