I, for one, found it incredibly difficult to pick one particular finding as “the best”. They were all hold a lot of significance in their own ways. Provided that they are all authentic, that is (I, for one, am slightly skeptical about the human ancestor one, as it hasn’t yet been dated and findings similar to that have been forged before).
However, while my favorite is definitely the “Baby Bobcat” finding, the one I think holds the most significance of the ten is the “Bronze Age Bride” article. The article discusses the finding of a skeleton of a woman and child outside of the town of Egtved, on the Jutland Peninsula, in 1921. Naturally, archaeologists of the time assumed the woman was from the area. However, last year, analysis of the woman’s tooth enamel revealed that she was more likely from the Black Forest region of Southern Germany.
This new finding lead archaeologists to believe that there could have been a marriage to forge an alliance between the two regions. Furthermore, analysis of the woman’s fingernails showed that she had not simply settled down in the Jutland area, but had instead moved from the Black Forest to Jutland, back to the Black Forest, and back again to Jutland before dying. This, along with the fact that her body was found associated with the cremated remains of a small child, lead to the conclusion that the two regions were reinforcing their relationship with “foster brothers”, young males exchanged and raised in the region opposite from where they were born. The archaeologists present also hypothesized that the child had died en route to Jutland, hence the burial with the woman.
I chose this as my number one finding because it shows how much information an apparently small finding can hold. A single skeleton, paired with the cremated remains of a single child. Taken out of context, these findings are almost insignificant. Given the context, however, and modern analytical methods, we can learn so much from so little. This simple pair of remains, in one year, went from being simply the remains of a local, though ancient, individual, buried with her deceased child to informing us about political relationships between regions some 500 miles apart!
Which touches on the other reason this was my number one finding from the list: the fact that we don’t always get the whole picture. As new methods of analysis evolve, so, too, does our knowledge of the past. Archaeological finds from almost a century ago tell a completely different story now than they did on the day they were found. It would be foolish to assume we know everything there is to know about a finding when we first look it over, and, until the day we can actually step back in time to observe the past as it happened, we may never know the full story behind some findings.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.