Words can't begin to explain the archaeological year that was 2018. But, given that it's our job to do so, we'll attempt to wrap up all the crazy shenanigans that the ancient world tried to pull on us, from the downright bizarre reason these Peruvian skeletons are missing their feet to the 50,000-year-old mammoth tiara that may have belonged to the Denisovans. Notably, this year was also one of biblical proportions. Archaeologists found an exceptionally early painting of Jesus in an ancient Israeli church that they believe to be around 1,500 years old while the Museum of the Bible had a few hiccups with their Dead Sea Scrolls. (Big surprise, they were fake.) Just last month, archaeologists believed they finally found Greece's lost city of Tenea.
What we're trying to say is this: it was really, really difficult to pin down just a handful of the most news-worthy and remarkable archaeological stories of this year. Without further ado, we introduce to you the most meme-tastic and Internet-trendy stories of 2018 as determined in no particular order and by no scientific means of measurement, whatsoever.
As if it’s not bad enough to die in an apocalyptic volcanic eruption, making the list for 2018’s best archaeological meme just added a boulder-sized cherry on top.
A man who fled Pompeii mid-eruption became a viral Internet meme after archaeologists found him in a position that made it appear as if he had been smashed to death by a massive falling rock in a feat worthy of a standing ovation by Wile E. Coyote himself. The gent made the Internet rounds for about a month before archaeologists working at the Pompeii site realized the initial analysis was likely wrong. After having managed to remove the giant rock from the ground, researchers found the man’s skull and upper body were intact, making it unlikely that he was killed by a rogue rock blasted from the nearby Mt. Vesuvius. Instead, he probably died from asphyxia caused by the pyroclastic flow.
Fortunately for us, when archaeologists actually opened the stone coffin it didn’t contain a sinister evil ready to unleash a damning curse on the world – but the ooey-gooey, sludgy mess that followed was just as bad. According to officials, sewage had leaked into the coffin from a nearby road leaving three skeletons to rest in the red stew-age. (That led to another disgusting Internet thread deemed worthy of its own article.) Further analysis revealed a rather grim history behind those buried in the coffin that includes the story a young woman and two young men who appeared to have been placed on top of each other in subsequent burials, one of which had been the recipient of a surgical procedure known as trepanation (making holes in the skull).