We might think a lot of the ground-breaking discoveries in archeology come from archeologists themselves, but you might be surprised at how many costly and treasured artifacts (as well as a few other oddities) have been unearthed by construction workers. It makes sense if you think about it. They are often digging deep into areas that have previously been untouched in order to lay a solid foundation for whatever project they’re working on. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable discoveries over the years!
We’re starting off with one of the stranger things here on this list. Spiders. Construction projects are held up and later abandoned for many reasons, usually lack of funds or the inability to get the right tools and materials. However, in 2012, a construction project was halted by something entirely unusual – spiders. Specifically, the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver.
This spider, previously thought to be extinct, was found in San Antonio, when workers were breaking ground for a 15.1 million dollar highway construction project. Progress was stopped for over 2 years while the US Fish & Wildlife Service battled it out with the Federal Highway Administration. They finally came to an agreement that they would build an overpass instead of an underpass.
Fresno property owner, Tim Jones, didn’t realize the fortune he’d inherit when he purchased and renovated an old jewelry store. He didn’t think he was buying the precious gems inside, but to be fair, neither did the seller. While removing some old shelves, a construction worker found several envelopes hidden in the walls, each containing diamonds and precious jewels.
Since the original owner died several years prior, there was no way to contact him. His daughter, however, tried to claim the hidden treasure for herself, but since the sale had already taken place, the diamonds were considered part of Tim Jones’ original purchase. Talk about a good investment!
While laying the foundation for a new subway system in Rome in 2016, construction workers made a jaw-dropping discovery. Buried underneath the ground was a massive tunnel system with over 30 rooms and dozens of pristine mosaics. The more the workers uncovered, the better picture archeologists were able to paint.
It turns out these were barracks from the 2nd century, AD. It is thought that the most respected and wealthy soldiers stayed in these barracks. Amazingly, the construction continued, but the plans were changed to include the barracks and mosaics that were unearthed.
Ming Dynasty Mummy
In 2011, construction workers in China discovered a curious cement box while digging the foundation for a new building. They were confused at first, but when a team of archeologists came in, things began to clear up. The box, as it turns out, contained a well-preserved mummy.
From the clues left behind, including the preservation method and jewelry found on the body, experts believe the mummy to be nearly 700 years old. This means the mummy was originally put to rest during the Ming dynasty, and was likely a very wealthy and prominent woman in society.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a retelling of Jurassic Park! While doing some road reconstruction in Heyuan, China, road workers made an incredible discovery – 43 fossilized dinosaur eggs! The eggs range from 4-5 inches in diameter, and while the species has yet to be identified, the way the eggs were preserved in such a built-up area of the city is nothing short of incredible.
Believe it or not, over 17,000 similar dinosaur eggs have been found in the surrounding area, thus earning the title, “China’s home of dinosaurs.”