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The Most Fascinating Archaeological Discoveries of 2020

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Archaeology unravels secrets and challenges people's ideas about human history – and 2020's finds enlightened us further.

This year, despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, archaeologists continued to dig up the past and have delighted the world with a number of impressive discoveries. 

They include the head of an ancient statue of the Greek god Hermes found in the central Athens, bones of an adult mammoth from the Palaeolithic period discovered in Russia, the first-ever fully preserved cave bear, and much more.

© AFP 2021 / Greek Culture MinistryThis picture released by the Greek Culture Ministry on 15 November 2020, shows the head of an ancient statue of the Greek god Hermes, which was unearthed during excavations for sewage system improvements in central Athens.
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This picture released by the Greek Culture Ministry on 15 November 2020, shows the head of an ancient statue of the Greek god Hermes, which was unearthed during excavations for sewage system improvements in central Athens.
© AP Photo / Peru's Ministry of Culture - Nasca-Palpa / Jhony IslasThis photo provided by Peru's Ministry of Culture-Nasca-Palpa shows the figure of a feline on a hillside in Nazca, Peru, 9 October 2020.
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This photo provided by Peru's Ministry of Culture-Nasca-Palpa shows the figure of a feline on a hillside in Nazca, Peru, 9 October 2020.
© AP Photo / Mahmoud KhaledAncient coffins are displayed at the Saqqara archaeological site, 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Cairo, Egypt on Saturday, 3 October 2020.
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Ancient coffins are displayed at the Saqqara archaeological site, 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Cairo, Egypt on Saturday, 3 October 2020.
© Sputnik / Press-office of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area Governor / Go to the photo bankFragments of the bones of an adult mammoth from the Palaeolithic period, discovered during archaeological excavations in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, Russia in late August.
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Fragments of the bones of an adult mammoth from the Palaeolithic period, discovered during archaeological excavations in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, Russia in late August.
© AP Photo / Atef SafadiThe remains of a previously unknown church and a 2000-year-old ritual bath were discovered at this site that dates from the time of Jesus, in Jerusalem, 21 December 2020.
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The remains of a previously unknown church and a 2000-year-old ritual bath were discovered at this site that dates from the time of Jesus, in Jerusalem, 21 December 2020.
© Photo : UCL’s Institute of ArchaeologyArchaeologists from the UCL’s Institute of Archaeology discovered the remains of what may be the Red Lion, an early Elizabethan playhouse built around AD 1567, Whitechapel, London, 10 June 2020.

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Archaeologists from the UCL’s Institute of Archaeology discovered the remains of what may be the Red Lion, an early Elizabethan playhouse built around AD 1567, Whitechapel, London, 10 June 2020.

CC BY 4.0 / Francesco d'Errico and Luc Doyon/PLOS / Lingjing bird carvingA Palaeolithic bird figurine discovered in Lingjing, Henan, China, 10 June 2020.
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A Palaeolithic bird figurine discovered in Lingjing, Henan, China, 10 June 2020.
CC BY 4.0 / Lars Pilø/Espen Finstad /James H. Barrett/Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2020 / (cropped image)A horse skull discovered in the Lendbreen ice patch in Norway’s Jotunheim Mountains, 15 April 2020.
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A horse skull discovered in the Lendbreen ice patch in Norway’s Jotunheim Mountains, 15 April 2020.
CC BY 4.0 / Google Earth/L. Verdonck/Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2020 / (cropped image)The first complete map of the ancient Roman city of Falerii Novi created with the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR), 9 June 2020.
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The first complete map of the ancient Roman city of Falerii Novi created with the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR), 9 June 2020.
© Photo : Rahil Alipour / UCLA scanning electron microscope image of slag inside a crucible, with a silvery blob of steel visible top centre, Iran, 23 September 2020.
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A scanning electron microscope image of slag inside a crucible, with a silvery blob of steel visible top centre, Iran, 23 September 2020.
© Photo : NEFU / The Siberian TimesThe first-ever full carcass of a cave bear, thought to have been alive approximately 39,500 years ago, unearthed in Yakutia, Russia, 1 October 2020.
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The first-ever full carcass of a cave bear, thought to have been alive approximately 39,500 years ago, unearthed in Yakutia, Russia, 1 October 2020.
© AP Photo / Andrew MedichiniA 1.4-meter (55-inch) wide sarcophagus and what appears to be an altar, dating back to the 6th Century B.C., are seen in an underground chamber at the ancient Roman Forum during an unveiling to media in Rome, 21 February 2020.
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A 1.4-meter (55-inch) wide sarcophagus and what appears to be an altar, dating back to the 6th Century B.C., are seen in an underground chamber at the ancient Roman Forum during an unveiling to media in Rome, 21 February 2020.
© Photo : Josep Maria Vergès/IPHESWall paintings in a Palaeolithic sanctuary discovered in the town of L'Espluga de Francolí in southern Catalonia, Spain, 7 February 2020.
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Wall paintings in a Palaeolithic sanctuary discovered in the town of L'Espluga de Francolí in southern Catalonia, Spain, 7 February 2020.
© Photo : Press service of the St Petersburg Institute of Material History CultureThe carcass of a warrior discovered in 1988 in the Tuva Republic, Russia and first identified as a male was proven this year to be a female child no older than 13, Moscow, 16 June 2020.
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The carcass of a warrior discovered in 1988 in the Tuva Republic, Russia and first identified as a male was proven this year to be a female child no older than 13, Moscow, 16 June 2020.
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