The Unique Architectural Heritage Of Icelandic Turf Houses that Hidden In The Landscape

The Unique Architectural Heritage Of Icelandic Turf Houses that Hidden In The Landscape

Memorable, popular, and rumored to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s hobbit holes, turf houses are a rare form of home for the people who live in difficult climates.

For millennia, they have existed, and although layouts and materials may have changed, the basic format remains the same wood and stone frames surrounded by the Icelandic landscape’s most plentiful material: turf. In Iceland, where turf houses were the most common housing as late as the 1960s, the structures were practical and well-suited for the difficult weather and lack of timber.

The people responsible for bringing the knowledge of turf houses were the very first settlers and themselves from another cold, difficult climate – the Vikings.

When the Vikings arrived in Iceland in 874 AD, it wasn’t as barren as it appears today – in fact, 25-40% of the island was covered in forest, mainly birch trees, though they were on the short side due to lack of light and low temperatures. 

But the new inhabitants cleared the forests for sheep grazing, agriculture, shelter, and firewood. Tree regeneration was inhibited by all the grazing and thus, the Vikings deforested Iceland.  So where did they get the wood for their houses after they used up the forest? Driftwood and shipwrecks made up the deficit.

The Vikings built communal longhouses, often sharing one large room with dozens of people and occasionally, animals.  Body heat was a very important tool for not freezing to death during the long dark winter, so inhabitants slept all in the same room with two or more per bed. 

Turf longhouses varied in size depending on the wealth of the farmer or clan, and occasionally outbuildings like sheds and privies were also built.

The building method is genius.

First, a hole was dug a few feet down to where the ground doesn’t freeze.  Then a stone footprint was laid using the flattest stones possible – this kept the wood from touching the damp ground and helped prevent rot. 

A wooden frame was then erected on top of the stone footprint; the posts and beams were held together using notches and pegs, and a mat of small branches was laid over the roof beams to create airflow between the beams and the turf. 

The turf was cut directly out of the ground using special tools and laid out to dry; then the turf “bricks” – held together by the root mass of the plants therein – were laid in two courses around the wood frame, with dirt and gravel compacted between the layers. 

Turf bricks also covered the roof at a steep angle to facilitate water runoff.  The resulting walls were extremely thick and provided excellent insulation and surprising water-tightness.

Viking houses included some very interesting features, like elaborate carved front doors with complex locks and holes for shooting arrows at attackers, and a sleeping closet for the master of the house and his wife that locked from the inside for extra protection against invaders. 

Archaeological evidence suggests that more than the longhouse was communal – the turf outhouses featured group seating!

While the Viking turf houses undoubtedly fared well against Iceland’s notorious cold, damp, and dark weather, they did have some downsides. 

Mice and lice often lived in the turf, and very bad storms could sometimes peel up the roofs.  Turf houses also required a lot of maintenance, and depending on the severity of the winter needed to be re-turfed every 20 or so years.

By the 14th century, Viking style longhouses had given way to smaller, specialized buildings that were connected by tunnels to conserve heat.  By the late 18th century, the burstabær style was the most popular, introducing wooden ends, or a wooden face with the back built into the side of a hill. 

Many houses in this style still stand and have become the iconic Icelandic turf house.  They remained the most common form of housing in Iceland until the 20th century when urbanization and modernization took the country by storm.  Within 30 years, Icelanders had made the change to modern houses and city living, and the last full-time residents of turf houses moved out in the 1960s.

Today you can visit several turf houses, most of which have been restored and incorporated into the National Museum of Iceland, though some families have privately restored their ancestral homes.

Once a common skill, knowledge of turf house construction is now relegated to a handful of specialized craftsmen doing restoration and educational work. 

But the influence of turf houses lives on: architecture firms in Iceland and abroad are rediscovering the appeal of the original “green” buildings, with their insulating properties and use of local materials.  Besides being strong and practical, turf houses are cute – especially when the roofs are in bloom.

Manchester Victorian baths uncovered under the car park

Manchester Victorian baths uncovered under the car park

Remnants from one of the earliest Victorian bathhouses have been unearthed beneath a car park. The “stunning” remains of Mayfield Baths, where mill workers took baths and washed their clothes, were found by archaeologists in Manchester.

The ornate tiles of the Mayfield baths, whose pools measured nearly 20 meters, were found in “stunning” condition beneath a car park 164 years after it opened.

The building, a grand Italianate design set in the heart of Manchester’s booming “Cottonopolis” district, was demolished after being bombed in the second world war but the remains of its swimming pools have been discovered by archaeologists from the University of Salford.

Manchester Victorian baths uncovered under the car park
Archaeologist Steve Tamburello inspects segments of tiles from one of the pools that were part of Mayfield baths.

The bathhouse, which opened in 1857, was a vital public amenity that served generations of Mancunians, most of whom worked in the surrounding print and textiles factories.

The area behind Manchester Piccadilly station has mainly been derelict for years but is undergoing redevelopment as part of plans to build 1,500 homes, retail, leisure and office space, as well as a 6.5-acre park – the first in the city for 100 years.

Graham Mottershead, the project manager at Salford Archaeology, said: “The Mayfield bathhouse is a fascinating example of the social and public health advancements that came about during the Industrial Revolution.

“As the city’s population boomed with factory workers, crowded and substandard living conditions gave rise to the spread of cholera and typhoid. For those living and working around Mayfield, the Mayfield baths would have been a vital source of cleanliness and hygiene.

The ornate tiles from the Mayfield baths will be preserved for future use, developers said.

“The sheer pace of change and innovation during the Industrial Revolution means many advancements were not recorded.

Excavations like this help us to learn a great deal about what is arguably the most important period of human history and, in the case of Mayfield, a location that is so very relevant to the heritage of the people of Manchester.”

The Mayfield Partnership, the public-private company behind the redevelopment, said it would preserve the ornate tiles from the bathhouse and use them in future.

It plans to name one of the new commercial buildings after George Poulton, who became famous in the 1850s as a promoter of public health at the Mayfield baths.

The remains, which were uncovered by painstaking hand-digging as well as machine excavation, will be used to form a detailed record of the bathhouse by combining the findings with historical documents and digital drawings.

Haunting pictures show a mass grave of 113 ancient human remains buried in clay pots in China

Haunting pictures show a mass grave of 113 ancient human remains buried in clay pots in China

These haunting images show a mass grave of 113 ancient human remains buried in household clay pots. Archaeologists have discovered a group of 2,000-year-old tombs using a unique ancient burial method in central China.

A total of 113 human remains have been found and each of them was wrapped with two to three clay containers, reported the People’s Daily Online.

Chinese historians said the finding of the large-scale tomb site was significant in helping them understand the burial customs of the Western Han Dynasty (202BC-8).

Haunting pictures show a mass grave of 113 ancient human remains buried in clay pots in China
Impressive: Archaeologists have discovered a group of 2,000-year-old tombs using a unique ancient burial method in China

The group tombs are located in Huanghua City, northern China’s Hebei province, which was thought to be the site of an ancient city called Fudi.

Archaeologists discovered six tombs. The excavation efforts afterwards revealed that the site contained more than 100 chambers.

So far, experts have located 113 tombs. 

All the remains were buried using a method called ‘urn burial’, which means the corpses were wrapped using two to three large clay containers, such as urns, pots and bowls. 

A small hole would be drilled at a side of the clay coating. It’s believed that this was to let the soul of the deceased come and go freely. 

It was previously thought that ‘urn burial’ was only used on children. However, on this newly discovered site, six tombs were of adults while 107 belonged to children.

Zhang Baogang, the head of the Huanghua Museum, told a reporter from China’s Xinhua News Agency: ‘Due to river digging and the destruction of nature in the past 2,000 years, we have only managed to excavate part of the tomb site.

‘We have discovered remains some 150 metres (492 miles) south of the site, which means the number of adults having been buried in urns could be much higher.’

This was the first time Chinese archaeologists had found ‘urn burial’ being used on adults, Zhang said during an earlier interview. 

Zhang said that the tombs were thought to belong to civilians. As a result, the discovery was significant in helping them understand the burial customs of people living in Fudi, a fortress city built during the Western Han Dynasty (202BC-8)

300,000-Year-Old Wooden Throwing Stick Found in Germany

300,000-Year-Old Wooden Throwing Stick Found in Germany

In Germany, a 300,000-year-old hunting stick able to kill big predators has been discovered. Used by the extinct human subspecies Homo heidelbergensis, the wooden throwing stick was capable of killing waterbirds and horses during the Ice Age.

It was achieved by conducting trials and looking at what would strike the target at full height, with the length of the throwing stick being 25 inches, and the speed of 98 feet (30 metres) per second.

German researchers have said the weapon was thrown like a boomerang, with one sharp side and one flat side, and spun powerfully around a centre of gravity. 

300,000-Year-Old Wooden Throwing Stick Found in Germany
The new throwing stick in situ at the time of discovery. The maker of the throwing stick used stone tools to cut the branches flush and then to smooth the surface of the artefact

But when in flight, the weapon, also referred to as ‘rabbit stick’ or ‘killing stick’, did not return to the thrower.

Instead, the rotation helped to maintain a straight, accurate trajectory which increased the likeliness of striking prey.    

Picture of throwing stick from Schöningen, Lower Saxony, Germany, with four views and engravings

‘They are effective weapons over different distances, among other things when hunting water birds,’ said Dr Jordi Serangeli, professor at the Institute for Prehistory, Early History and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. 

‘Bones of swans and ducks are well documented from the find layer. 

‘In addition, it is likely that larger mammals, such as horses that were often hunted on the shores of Lake Schöningen, were startled and driven in a certain direction with the throwing stick.’ 

Hunters on the Schöningen lakeshore likely used the throwing stick to hunt waterbirds

Researchers uncovered the weapon during an archaeological excavation at the Schöningen mine in Lower Saxony, northern Germany. Schöningen has yielded by far the largest and most important record of wooden tools and hunting equipment from the Paleolithic,’ said Professor Nicholas Conard, founding director of the Institute of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Tübingen.

Detailed analysis by the researchers showed how the maker of this type of throwing stick used stone tools to cut the branches flush and then smooth the surface. The stick, carved from spruce wood, is around 25 inches (64.5cm) long, just over 1 inch (2.9cm) in diameter and weighs 264 grams.

This weapon also had fractures and damage consistent with that found on similar experimental examples.

For the first time, researchers say the study provides clear evidence of the function of such a weapon.

Late Lower Palaeolithic hominins in Northern Europe were ‘highly effective hunters’ with a wide array of wooden weapons that are rarely preserved, they say.

‘300,000 years ago, hunters had used different high-quality weapons such as throwing sticks, javelins and thrust lances in combination,’ said Professor Conard.

Researchers attribute the discovery to the ‘outstanding’ preservation of wooden artefacts in the water-saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen.

‘The chances of finding Paleolithic artefacts made of wood are normally zero.

‘Only thanks to the fabulously good conservation conditions in water-saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen can we document the evolution of hunting and the varied use of wooden tools.’  The discovery has been detailed further in Nature Ecology & Evolution. 

Archaeological Site in Peru Is Called Oldest City in the Americas

Archaeological Site in Peru Is Called Oldest City in the Americas

A complex of American pyramids that may be older than the pyramids of Egypt stands on a high, dry terrace overlooking a lush river valley in the Andes Mountains of Peru. These structures are remnants of the ancient city of Caral, which some have called the oldest society in the Americas.

According to groundbreaking research published in Science back in 2001, Caral was founded around 5,000 years ago. That origin date places it before the Egyptian pyramids in Africa and roughly 4,000 years before the Incan Empire rose to power on the South American continent. That history, and the sheer scope of the site, prompted UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural.

Caral sits in the Supe Valley, a region of Peru’s high desert nestled between the rainforest, mountains and the Pacific coast. The valley is brimming with ancient monumental architecture. And in the decades since Caral first made headlines, archaeologists working in the region have turned up about 18 nearby cities, some of which may be even older.

Taken together, these ancient people represent a complex culture now called Norte Chico. These people lived at a time when cities were on Earth, and perhaps non-existent elsewhere in the so-called New World. Even more incredible is that the civilization pre-dated the invention of ceramic pottery by some six centuries, yet they could master the technological prowess required to build monumental pyramids. 

Much remains a mystery about this culture, but if archaeologists can unlock the secrets of Caral and its ancient neighbours, they may be able to understand the origins of Andean civilizations — and the emergence of the first American cities. 

The Pyramids of Caral

A German archaeologist named Max Uhle first stumbled across Caral in 1905 during a wide-ranging study of ancient Peruvian cities and cemeteries. The site piqued his interest, but Uhle didn’t realize the large hills in front of him were actually pyramids. Archaeologists only made that discovery in the 1970s. And even then, it took another two decades before Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady kicked off systematic excavations of the region.

In 1993, working on weekends with the help of her students, Shady began a two-year survey of the Supe Valley that would ultimately yield a staggering 18 distinct settlements. No one knew how old they were, but the cities’ similarities and more primitive technologies implied a single, ancient culture that predated all others in the region.

By 1996, Shady’s work attracted a small fund from the National Geographic Society, which was enough to launch her Caral Archaeological Project working at the heart of the main city itself.

And when her team’s initial results were published in 2001, their study set the narrative for Caral as we still appreciate it today. The global press heralded it as the first city in the Americas. “Caral … was a thriving metropolis as Egypt’s great pyramids were being built,” Smithsonian Magazine reported. The BBC said the find offered hope to a century-long archaeological search for a “mother city” — a culture’s true first transition from tribal family units into urban life. Such a discovery could help explain why humanity made the leap.

Ruth’s work would make her an icon in Peruvian archaeology. As a 2006 feature in Discover put it, “She has dug [Caral’s] buildings out of the dust and pried cash from the grip of reluctant benefactors. She has endured poverty, political intrigue, and even gunfire (her bum knee is a souvenir of an apparent attempted carjacking near the dig site) in the pursuit of her mission.”

She continues to study the ancient society today, eking out new clues buried in the desert. Over decades, her long-running project has revealed that the “Sacred City of Caral-Supe” covers roughly 1,500 acres of surprisingly complex and well-preserved architecture. At its height, Caral was home to thousands of people and featured six pyramids, sunken circular courts, monumental stone architecture and large platform mounts made of earth. To researchers, these buildings are a testament to a forgotten ceremonial and religious system.

She now holds honorary doctorate degrees from five universities and a Medal of Honor from Peru’s congress. In November of 2020, the BBC named her to their 100 Women of 2020 list. 

But controversy has also emerged in the two decades since the seminal study. Shady had a falling out with her co-authors in the years after their publication that turned nasty. Soon, other researchers had also started producing radiocarbon dates from the ancient cities that surround Caral. Surprisingly, some of those dates suggest they could be even older. Those dates could simply be evidence that these cities all existed simultaneously as part of a larger culture in this valley in the Andes. Or, it could be a sign that the true oldest city has yet to be found. 

Influence on the Inca

Whichever city in the area is oldest, Norte Chico presents a puzzle for human history. Until recent years, conventional wisdom held that people first reached North America in earnest 13,000 years ago via a land bridge that appeared as the Ice Age thawed. A steady stream of sites older than that has since been found. In Peru, human remains have shown that hunter-gatherers lived in the region as far back as at least 12,000 years ago. And there are traces of settlements along the Pacific Coast from 7,000 years ago. The residents of Caral were likely the ancestors of these people who decided to settle down and build cities in the Supe Valley.

But why would the mother city of the Americas emerge so early in South America? Well-known sites in North America, like the cities of the Olmec, as well as Chaco Canyon and Moundville, weren’t built until thousands of years later.

To archaeologists, unlocking the story of Caral — and what became of the people who lived there — could carry implications for the story of the Americas as a whole. The Caral civilization survived for nearly a millennium, until, some researchers suspect, climate change wiped it out. But the people and their ideas didn’t disappear. Scientists see Caral’s influence in cultures that lived long after they were gone. All along the Peruvian coast, there are signs of mounds, circular structures and urban plans similar to those at Caral.

Archaeologists also found a khipu (or quipu) recording device at the site. For thousands of years after Caral’s demise, and throughout the Inca Empire, cultures in the Andes would use this system of knots as a kind of recorded language unlike any other known in the world.

The genetic heritage of the Caral people may also survive even today. A sweeping genetic study of modern Peru, published in Nature in 2013, showed that despite the Spanish influence, people in many regions of the nation can trace their genetic heritage all the way back to the first settlers of South America. It’s a line that runs right through Caral.

An American King Tut’s Tomb of the Arkansas Valley

An American King Tut’s Tomb of the Arkansas Valley

During the height of its looting in the winter of 1935, the Spiro site—located in northeastern Oklahoma just 10 miles west of Fort Smith—was catapulted to fame by a headline published in the Kansas City Star (December 15, 1935) proclaiming it “A ‘King Tut’ Tomb in the Arkansas Valley.

80 years ago, in 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, a group of six men – calling themselves the Pocola Mining Company – kicked in $50 each to raise the $300 Evans was asking for a 2-year lease to excavate the mound on the Craig property.

Descendants of the miners say they believed gold was hidden in the mound, stashed by early Spanish explorers who were traveling the rivers of the interior from Colorado, trying to make it to the Mississippi and the sea. The story maintains that the gold was buried in a mound near a river, along with the Indian guides who were killed to keep the secret.

They started with picks and shovels. At first, the relics and skeletons the diggers unearthed from the mound were of little interest. These men were after gold. But curiosity seekers would come by and offer nickel or a dime for an artifact that caught their eye. As word spread, curio hunters came by the mounds to buy up more of the items.

When word of the cache of relics reached Forrest Clements at the archaeology department of the University of Oklahoma, he tried to stop the dig. He attempted to buy out the investors, who were discouraged they weren’t hitting pay dirt. He tried to get Evans to rescind the lease. He lobbied the Oklahoma Legislature to pass an antiquities act to protect the mounds from commercial digs – and there he succeeded.

But not everyone agreed with his idea that the past was public property. The 1930s was the era of the fictional Indiana Jones and the decade after the spectacular unearthing of King Tut’s tomb. Weren’t archaeologists really treasure hunters too?

Clements explained the difference in terms of the greater good: “If the at-present, almost wholly unknown, the prehistory of Oklahoma is to become a matter of scientific record, the archaeological work must be done by formally trained persons and published in the orthodox scientific journals before the relatively few sites have been irretrievably ruined.”

He added a simple assessment, in layman’s language: “Scratching around can never be useful and is always damaging.”

Four months before the Pocola Mining Company’s lease was to expire, the new law allowed Clements to contact the LeFlore County sheriff’s office and file a complaint about the now-illegal digging on Craig Mound. A deputy showed up and told the men they had to stop, under threat of arrest. Clements thrilled that the slow destruction of the mound through shovel and pickax had been stopped, headed to California to teach a course.

ARAS/OAS team conducting a gradiometer survey at Spiro.

Upon hearing that Clements had left the state, the Pocola Mining Company snuck back to the mound to get as much for its investment as it could.

They hired out-of-work miners and decided to speed up their quest to tunnel through to the mound’s center. About 30 feet in, they hit fragments of conch shells, engraved with faces and symbols. Accounts tell of the miners hauling out the decorated shells by the wheelbarrow and dumping them near the entrance, where they were crushed underfoot.

Eventually, the diggers hit a wall of hard-packed earth, 18 inches thick. In his book “Looting Spiro Mounds,” historian David La Vere tells of the moment of discovery and what waited on the other side: “The pick blade broke through into empty space. Immediately there was a hissing noise, as humid Oklahoma summer air rushed into the hollow chamber beyond.” The miners’ lamps revealed one of the most stunning finds in the history of the continent: the largest trove of pre-European-contact artifacts north of the Mexican border, sealed in Spiro Mounds decades before Columbus set foot in the Americas.

What followed was a feeding frenzy. There was neither time nor inclination for photographs or sketches to be made of the layout or holdings in the central tomb. Witnesses tell of beads, pearls and arrowheads spilled across the site, feather capes and elaborate weavings trampled, ancient cedar poles burned as firewood and human bones piled at the edge of the camp, where they soon crumbled to dust.

The Spiro Mounds treasure made headlines nationwide. The New York Times trumpeted the significance of the relics, inaccurately noting that “each item taken from the mound is catalogued and photographed and careful records are being kept.” The Kansas City Star heralded the discovery of a “‘King Tut’ Tomb of the Arkansas Valley.” Soon, other LeFlore County mounds came under attack from relic hunters wielding shovels and driving mule-team-drawn scrapers.

With the burial chamber sacked, time running out on their lease, and Clements due back from California, the Pocola Mining Company decided on one last action. From La Vere’s telling: “In a fit of spite, just to jab their finger in Clements’ eye, they packed the central chamber of the Great Temple Mound with kegs of black powder and touched off a mighty explosion.”

The blast shattered whatever items remained in the chamber, creating a small cave-in and a large crack in the mound and, according to La Vere, “destroyed the Pocola men’s reputation as down-home heroes fighting for their property rights, blowing them instead into the ranks of looters and destroyers.”

The men were eventually arrested, but there is no record of them serving time. The damage was done.

Though the artifacts were priceless, the miners sold them for next to nothing. The money to be made was pocketed not by the workers but by dealers reselling the items to private collectors and museums.

The wealth of secrets lost in their rush to find gold disintegrated as quickly as the crushed fragments of bone and shell. They are now known only to the wind and the earth near the bend in the river where Spiro once ruled.

Grave robbers almost destroyed one of the most important archaeological sites in Oklahoma

Grave robbers almost destroyed one of the most important archaeological sites in Oklahoma

A miner’s pickaxe punched a hole through a wall of hard-packed soil 18 inches thick by drilling into a mound of earth on the banks of the Arkansas River in far eastern Oklahoma. The air hissed as it rushed to fill a hollow chamber below. And a foul odor escaped.

In the night, the miners quickly lowered a lamp, unveiling one of the most impressive archaeological finds in the history of the world, a burial chamber containing the greatest collection of Native American artifacts ever discovered in the United States. The Kansas City Star, in a headline published Dec. 15, 1935, described it as “A ‘King Tut’ Tomb in the Arkansas Valley.”

And the miners were there to rob it.

They had originally come to the now-famous Spiro Mounds looking for gold in 1933, the depths of the Great Depression. Six men called themselves the Pocola Mining Co. and pitched in $50 each to lease the site from the property owner, who needed the money to pay his mortgage and to treat a grandson’s tuberculosis, according to historian David La Vere’s 2007 book, “Looting Spiro Mounds.”

Artists conception of the Caddoan Mississippian culture Spiro Mounds Site in eastern Oklahoma on the Arkansas River. Occupied between 800 to 1450 CE, the site was a major regional power. The illustration shows the large Brown Mound at the center of the site next to the oval-shaped plaza to the west ringed by smaller house mounds. To the southeast is the famous Craigs Mound, or “The Great Mortuary Mound”, with its distinctive profile.
Grave robbers almost destroyed one of the most important archaeological sites in Oklahoma
A replica house shows tourists how people would have lived centuries ago at the spiro mounds Archaeological center in Eastern Oklahoma.
Heavily Damaged by the looters in 1930, Criag mound at the spiro mounds Archaeological centre was restored in the 1970 to show tourists how its originally looked.
Heavily Damaged by the looters in 1930, Craig mound at the spiro mounds Archaeological center was restored in 1970 to show tourists how it originally looked.
Craig Mound

Instead of gold, at first, they found only small relics and skeletons. But collectors and souvenir hunters were willing to pay for the artifacts, so the miners kept digging.

Forrest Clements, an anthropology professor at the University of Oklahoma, seems to have been the first to realize what the miners were destroying.

Built over the course of several centuries, at least a dozen mounds stood near a vast central plaza, a seat of power for Caddoan-speaking tribes that once stretched from the Rocky Mountains to the Virginia coast.

More than 1,100 tribal leaders are thought to have been buried there along with ceremonial relics, including elaborate jewelry, weapons, blankets, beads, and effigy pipes. All of it was being looted and sold off piecemeal, with no effort to document or preserve the site.

Professor Clements tried to buy out the lease, but the miners were still hoping to find gold buried under the mounds. So Clements persuaded the state Legislature to pass an antiquities act, one of the first laws of its kind in the United States to protect archaeological sites.

A sheriff’s deputy forced the digging to stop. But the miners sneaked back later and redoubled their efforts to reach the center of one of the largest mounds. And that’s where they found Oklahoma’s version of King Tut’s tomb.

“What followed was a feeding frenzy,” according to a 2013 article in 405 Magazine. “There was neither time nor inclination for photographs or sketches to be made of the layout or holdings in the central tomb.

Witnesses tell of beads, pearls and arrowheads spilled across the site, feather capes and elaborate weavings trampled, ancient cedar poles burned as firewood and human bones piled at the edge of the camp, where they soon crumbled to dust.”

The miners stole what they could, then packed the burial chamber with black powder and blew it up. Historians consider it one of the worst examples of looting and archaeological vandalism in U.S. history. But not all was lost.

Opening Feb. 12 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, a new temporary exhibit will bring together 175 relics from Spiro, borrowed from various collections across the country. It will be the first time, and possibly the last, for these priceless artifacts to be reunited since they were taken from the mounds.

Closing May 9 in Oklahoma City, the exhibit will travel to the Birmingham Museum of Art in October and to the Dallas Museum of Art in April 2022.

“Our staff has worked for years to create a world-class, exciting and collaborative presentation of a people who have been overlooked for too long,” said Natalie Shirley, the Oklahoma City museum’s president, and CEO.

Man-Made or Natural? Mysterious, Giant Face Discovered on Cliff in Canada

Man-Made or Natural? Mysterious, Giant Face Discovered on Cliff in Canada

A mysterious, “large” face on the cliffside of an island in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has recently been re-discovered by a man who has been searching for the face for over two years, according to government agency Parks Canada.

Man-Made or Natural? Mysterious, Giant Face Discovered on Cliff in Canada
A mysterious, “large” face on the cliffside of an island in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has recently been re-discovered by a man from who has been searching for the face for over two years, according to government agency Parks Canada.

Hank Gus of the Tseshaht First Nation, an aboriginal group in the area, first heard about the “face in the rocks” of Reeks Island, part of the Broken Group Islands, two years ago after hearing a story that a kayaking tourist spotted the face in 2008, said Parks Canada First Nation’s program manager Matthew Payne. He added that Gus was not able to find the reported face until just a few weeks ago.

“Gus and some Tseshaht beach keepers recently discovered it a few weeks ago, and they were very excited to share it with us and the archaeologist we work with,” Payne, 43, told ABC News. “We went out to see it recently, and it’s remarkable. It really is a face staring back at you.”

The strange face was spotted on Reeks Island in British Columbia, Canada

The face, believed to be about seven-feet-tall, is similar to a wooden carving on the door of the Tseshaht administration office, Payne said.

“The Tseshaht has lived in the area for thousands of years, so we working with the First Nations to find out if there are any oral histories the face could link back to,” Payne added.

Now, Tseshaht First Nation and Parks Canada are trying to figure out if the face was man-made or if it’s a natural marvel, he said.

“Mother Nature is capable of creating all sorts of amazing things, though the face is very striking,” Payne said. “But we still can’t definitively say if the face is man-made or not.”

Though the Tseshaht and Parks Canada would like to examine the face up-close, the cliff the face is on is treacherous, Payne said.

“The island has a rocky shoreline with lots of hidden rocks, and it can be dangerous depending on sea conditions,” he explained. “You need to know what you’re doing to go and look at it.”

The Tseshaht First Nation did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional information.

All In One Magazine