5 amazing archaeological discoveries preserved by nature

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5 amazing archaeological discoveries preserved by nature

1. Dead Sea scrolls

Beginning in 1947, one of the most important discoveries of the 20th Century occurred along the steep cliffs and desert caverns, which are located near the Dead Sea.

(Photo: Getty)

1. Dead Sea scrolls

During the spring, Bedouin goat shepherds stumbled upon several ancient jars that contained seven unique manuscripts while searching a cave for a lost goat.

(Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

1. Dead Sea scrolls

A worker of the Israeli Antiquity Authority sews fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls which includes biblical verses in a preservation laboratory of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

1. Dead Sea scrolls

Israel Antiquities Department conservator Tatiana Treiger unwraps a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls containing the ten commandments before installing them at Discovery Times Square in New York, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

2. Mummies of Pompeii

A restorer works on a petrified victim of the eruption of Vesuvius volcano in 79 BC, as part of the restoration work and the study of 86 casts in the laboratory of Pompeii Archaeological Site, on May 20, 2015 in Pompeii. (MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Mummies of Pompeii

Frozen in time and entombed in a shell of volcanic ash, the victims of Pompeii have been preserved by the same tragedy that ended their lives nearly 2,000 years ago.

2. Mummies of Pompeii

The once-thriving Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by the powerful, volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., a disaster that has allowed pieces of the ancient Roman way of life to survive throughout the ages.

2. Mummies of Pompeii

The cracked skull of a victim of the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano, near Pompeii, Italy, which erupted in AD 79. Pompeii was buried in ash and other volcanic products known as a pyroclastic flow, which preserved much of what is visible today. Bodies covered in ash decomposed, leaving a void which was later filled with plaster to produce a cast of the body shape and features preserved by the ash.

2. Mummies of Pompeii

Following the eruption, a massive landslide sent a deluge of mud and debris down the mountainside at immense speeds, burying the city and its doomed inhabitants. It was eventually lost to time and forgotten.

3. Oetzi the Iceman

On Sept. 21, 1991, two tourists hiking in the beautiful Otztal Alps near the Austria-Italy border made the grisly discovery of a human corpse lying in a pool of melting ice, a chance encounter that would become one of the most important archaeological discoveries in human history.

(AP Photo)

3. Oetzi the Iceman

Oetzi the Iceman is one of the oldest natural mummies in the world, with estimates putting his time of death nearly 5,300 years ago. In addition, Oetzi is one of the oldest homicide victims ever discovered.

(GERHARD HINTERLEITNER/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Oetzi the Iceman

By examining the well preserved body, which had been encased in the glacial ice of the mountainous region, scientists discovered Oezti was felled by an arrow after an X-ray of his corpse.

(Andrea Solero/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Oetzi the Iceman

Further research revealed that the Iceman likely was involved in hand-to-hand combat before his death due to bruising and an area of trauma to the back of the head.

(AP Photo)

3. Oetzi the Iceman

Due to the violent nature of his death and a series of tragedies over the years involving many of the Iceman's researchers, Oetzi, like some Egyptian mummies, comes with theories of his own legendary curse.

(Andrea Solero/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Frozen woolly mammoths

Unearthed from her icy tomb off the northern coast of Siberia in 2010, the best preserved woolly mammoth ever discovered has become the focus of exciting new possibilities in paleontology and genetic science.

(Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

4. Frozen woolly mammoths

Mammoth researcher Professor Adrian Lister poses for photographs looking at Lyuba, a baby woolly mammoth considered to be the most complete example of the species ever found, at the Natural History Museum in London, Monday, May 19, 2014. Lyuba, her name taken from the word for love in Russian, was discovered frozen in clay and mud in Russia's Yamal Peninsula of Siberia in 2007 and is estimated to have died around 42,000 years ago at one month old. She is 85cm tall and 130 cm long, and is on loan from Russia's Shemanovsky Museum to feature in the exhibition "Mammoths: Ice Age Giants", which runs from March 23 to September 7. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

4. Frozen woolly mammoths

A frozen woolly mammoth named "Yuka" is seen being prepared for display at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in Taipei, Taiwan. The three-meter-long and 39,000-year-old female mammoth was excavated in Siberia in 2010, and died when it was roughly 10 years old. Yuka will be part of a display on exhibition till March 2014. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

4. Frozen woolly mammoths

The frozen remains of two woolly mammoths, long extinct elephants in the Ice Age uncovered from the Siberian permafrost, are seen on display in a refrigerated viewing box, at the Taiwan National Democracy Memorial Hall, in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 11, 2008. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

5. Ancient plants resurrected from icy graves

Even without the use of genetic research, another ancient biological lifeform was discovered after being freed from a 400-year-old ice tomb, due to the retreating Teardrop Glacier on the Canadian Ellesmere Island.

(Photo: Getty)

5. Ancient plants resurrected from icy graves

Further research indicated that mosses, dated to be between 400 and 600 years old, had resumed growing after being freed after centuries of being buried under the ice.

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By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer

Countless secrets have been lost to the unrelenting forces of time and nature as they erode remnants of prehistoric life, ancient civilizations and even humanity's closest ancestors.

READ MORE: Do you know more about science than most Americans?

While Mother Nature's influence is often destructive, and decay inevitable, in some circumstances, climate, environmental factors and weather have led to some of the most exciting, mysterious and academically important discoveries of all time.

Nearly everyone, including paleontologists, archaeologists, historians, philosophers and scholars, have sought answers by examining pieces of the past in order to identify who we are and where we come from.

Watch more in the video below:

6 Ancient Archaeological Discoveries

Read more below:

1) DEAD SEA SCROLLS

Beginning in 1947, one of the most important discoveries of the 20th Century occurred along the steep cliffs and desert caverns, which are located near the Dead Sea.

During the spring, Bedouin goat shepherds stumbled upon several ancient jars that contained seven unique manuscripts while searching a cave for a lost goat.

Throughout the next decade, several additional archaeological discoveries were made by the Bedouin and archaeologists around the original site, Khirbet Qumran.

The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. It is fed by several tributaries including the Jordan River.

Due to its high salinity and low elevation inside a deep basin, the climate of the Dead Sea region is unique. Atmospheric humidity in the area is relatively low and nearby regions are arid, which provided a very conducive environment for the preservation of the scrolls over the course of thousands of years.

"The fact that they survived for twenty centuries, that they were found accidentally by Bedouin shepherds, that they are the largest and oldest body of manuscripts relating to the Bible and to the time of Jesus of Nazareth make them a truly remarkable archaeological find," according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

The manuscripts found in the Qumran caves feature the earliest known copies of biblical texts written in Hebrew and Aramaic languages, along with prayers, hymns and other Jewish writings including pseudepigrapha, or books attributed to ancient biblical characters like Enoch, according to the University of Southern California.

"They represent more than 1,400 original documents, some complete or nearly complete [such as the Great Isaiah Scroll], but many quite fragmentary," The Dead Sea Foundation reports.

According to the foundation, there are close to 100,000 fragments of the scrolls. The scrolls themselves are comprised of parchment, or animal skins, some of which stretch as long as 30 feet.

Since their discovery, they have fascinated archaeologists, scholars and people around the world, making them one of the most mysterious, interesting and controversial discoveries of the modern age.

2) MUMMIES OF POMPEII

Frozen in time and entombed in a shell of volcanic ash, the victims of Pompeii have been preserved by the same tragedy that ended their lives nearly 2,000 years ago.

The once-thriving Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed by the powerful, volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., a disaster that has allowed pieces of the ancient Roman way of life to survive throughout the ages.

When the eruption occurred, it blotted out the sun, sent plumes of ash hundreds of feet into the atmosphere and unleashed a fatal ash plume that smothered the nearby city.

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Following the eruption, a massive landslide sent a deluge of mud and debris down the mountainside at immense speeds, burying the city and its doomed inhabitants. It was eventually lost to time and forgotten.

Since its rediscovery in the 18th century, streets, buildings, relics and ancient human remains have been unearthed, providing archaeologists with greater insight into the region's past. However, even today, almost a third of the ancient Roman city remains buried.

"Volcanic ash long protected Pompeii, but much of it has now been exposed to the elements for many years. The combined wear of weather, pollution, and tourists has created a real danger of losing much of what was luckily found preserved," according to National Geographic.

In September, archaeologists released their finding after conducting CT scans of some of the victims, indicating their diet was likely high in fiber and low in sugar due to the condition of the teeth, according to a report from DailyMail.com.

In addition, many of the victims suffered head injuries, likely due to falling debris at the time of the eruption, the report said.


3) OETZI THE ICEMAN

On Sept. 21, 1991, two tourists hiking in the beautiful Otztal Alps near the Austria-Italy border made the grisly discovery of a human corpse lying in a pool of melting ice, a chance encounter that would become one of the most important archaeological discoveries in human history.

Oetzi the Iceman is one of the oldest natural mummies in the world, with estimates putting his time of death nearly 5,300 years ago. In addition, Oetzi is one of the oldest homicide victims ever discovered.

By examining the well preserved body, which had been encased in the glacial ice of the mountainous region, scientists discovered Oezti was felled by an arrow after an X-ray of his corpse.

Further research revealed that the Iceman likely was involved in hand-to-hand combat before his death due to bruising and an area of trauma to the back of the head.

Due to the violent nature of his death and a series of tragedies over the years involving many of the Iceman's researchers, Oetzi, like some Egyptian mummies, comes with theories of his own legendary curse, according The Guardian.

In early January, scientists recently unveiled through the use of CT scans and genetic analysis that Oetzi suffered from an infection due to a pathogen that causes gastritis and stomach ulcers, according to Discovery News.

"We were able to decode the complete genome of a 5,300-year-old Helicobacter pylori," Paleopathologist Albert Zink told Discovery News, referring to the pathogen.


4) FROZEN WOOLLY MAMMOTHS

Unearthed from her icy tomb off the northern coast of Siberia in 2010, the best preserved woolly mammoth ever discovered has become the focus of exciting new possibilities in paleontology and genetic science.

Yuka, as the scientists have dubbed her, is complete with fur, muscle tissue, a blood sample and an intact brain, according to a 2014 report from Russia Today.

Due to the ideal weather conditions of the Yakutia region, which is located in the Russian Arctic Circle, where the 39,000-year-old animal was found, the mammoth's remains have provided scientists with astounding advances and insights in understanding the biology of the Pleistocene creature.

In 2013, another well-preserved mammoth was discovered in Russia, which has led to deciphering the mammoth's DNA.

In what seems like science derived from Michael Crichton's best-seller, Jurassic Park, the woolly mammoth may once again walk the Earth as researchers discuss the possibility of de-extinction.

"Current efforts to clone ancient animals are being conducted by scientists worldwide, including at Harvard and the University of Chicago. So far they have been held back by the quality of their mammoth DNA," Russia Today reported in September.


5) ANCIENT PLANTS RESURRECTED FROM ICY GRAVES

Even without the use of genetic research, another ancient biological lifeform was discovered after being freed from a 400-year-old ice tomb, due to the retreating Teardrop Glacier on the Canadian Ellesmere Island.

In the region, 400-year-old mosses were observed resuming their existence by project researchers at the University of Alberta in 2013, according to National Geographic.

"As we walked up to the edge of the glacier, we could see patches of mosses that seemed to be coming out from underneath the ice," Project Leader Catherine La Farge told National Geographic.

Further research indicated that mosses, dated to be between 400 and 600 years old, had resumed growing after being freed after centuries of being buried under the ice.

In 2012, scientists also successfully revived a plant that was nearly 30,000 years old after finding seeds preserved by Siberian permafrost, according to The Guardian.

"We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth's surface," the scientists said in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

Watch more coverage:

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