Archaeologists have helped us to understand the lives of our ancestors and in many cases have added to our knowledge of what it is to be human. And they’ve also added to our sense of wonder at the sometimes weird, sometimes gruesome and occasionally amusing habits of our predecessors. Whether it’s thousands of life-size statues of Chinese soldiers, hobbit-like humanoids or the shocking mummified child sacrifices of the Aztecs, archaeology seldom ceases to amaze and surprise.
20. Piri Reis Map
German Gustav Adolf Deissmann discovered the Piri Reis map in 1929. It was secreted in a dusty bundle of papers in the library at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. The Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis created the map in 1513. This 16th-century map is remarkable because it is the only one we know of from that century that gives a reasonably accurate depiction of the relative positions of South America and Africa.