Construction happens all over the world on a daily basis, so it’s simply a matter of odds that we’ll uncover some unexpected — and sometimes downright bizarre — findings along the way.
Here are six of the strangest examples I could find:
A Rude Awakening
Every once in a while, humankind receives a much-needed reminder that Mother Nature owns this planet — not us. Such was the case earlier in 2015 when workers in British Columbia unearthed an estimated 500 hibernating garter snakes.
Work was halted on the under-construction dike while the snakes were collected in boxes and buckets to be delivered to Vancouver’s Wildlife Rescue Association of British Columbia. Linda Baker, who helped oversee the transportation of the snakes, had this to say: “We get a few snakes in each year, but this is just extraordinary … we’ve never treated so many animals in a single day.”
Talk about a rude awakening.
A Very Confused Whale
In 1849, back when rail beds were being hand-dug all across America, workers in Vermont came across what they thought at first was the skeleton of a horse. They couldn’t have been more wrong if they’d tried.
After trying and failing to find its legs, they at last determined that the bones belonged to a whale. That’s weird enough, but this particular construction site was located 250 miles inland. Researchers later concluded that the skeleton was some 11,000 years old, so the whale may have swum inland back when shallow waters covered that area.
A Treasure Trove
It’s not that uncommon to unearth stray coins or other valuables when construction gets underway, but it’s considerably rarer to come across an actual buried treasure — you know, like the kind from pirate stories.
That’s exactly what construction workers in Sroda, Poland unearthed one day back in 1985. The initial find was comprised of a single vase filled with some 3,000 silver coins, which were dutifully handed over to the government. But that was just the beginning.
Just three short years later, further construction in the area turned up a vast fortune of gold and silver jewelry. Authorities surmised that the haul had once belonged to Emperor Charles IV and had laid in waiting for hundreds of years until the right passersby unearthed it once again.
A Long-Lost Memento
The tradition of burying a time capsule is one that’s long been practiced throughout modern history. It gives us a chance to preserve meaningful memories with the promise that later generations will be able to learn a little bit about the time in which we lived.
The most important part, of course, is remembering where you buried it.
Back in 1960, students at Western High School in Michigan buried a time capsule that they hoped would tell students 50 years in the future what life used to be like. Unfortunately, construction work disrupted the area, and the time capsule was presumed lost.
Thankfully, further excavating in the area finally found the long-lost capsule in 2013. They might have missed out on the planned 50-year anniversary, but better late than never, right?
A Gentler Side of Viking Culture
When we think of Vikings, several specific things likely come to mind — namely, horned helmets, brutally sharp swords and indiscriminate violence. But in October of 2013, renovation on a construction site in Dingwall, Scotland turned up a seldom-seen aspect of Viking culture.
Experts identified the find as a sort of “Viking parliament” — that is, the location where legal and governmental decisions were made.
An Explosive Surprise
Some of our grandparents may have passed down artifacts from foreign wars throughout our family history, but only in rare instances do these heirlooms include live ordinance.
In 2013, construction workers in downtown Belgrade came across an unexploded bomb containing “great destructive power.” Inhabitants in nearby buildings had to be evacuated while the bomb was removed for detonation in more controlled surroundings.
The bomb was identified as one that would have been dropped by Heinkel He 111 bombers during the Second World War, and it could have destroyed everything in the area if it had gone off.
Construction workers may not think they are going to be archaeologists when they bring a backhoe and shovels to a work site. However, you never know what a little moved dirt will unearth. It can certainly provide a window into the past and produce some pretty strange findings, too.