All the Weird and Wacky Things Found on Construction Sites
When you spend your days digging holes and breaking down walls, you're bound to stumble across some interesting things. Needless to say, there have been some very wonderful — and very strange — items found at construction sites.
The mishmash of treasures that have been uncovered by workers runs the gamut from awe-inspiring and heartwarming to stomach churning and just plain weird. From a Byzantine church to a giant (live!) snake, the finds are sometimes fascinating, sometimes horrifying. Let’s take a look!
You probably expect to find certain things when you're digging up the ground — maybe old stoneware, perhaps, or the remnants of long-forgotten tools. No matter where you're digging, you probably don’t expect to run across the foundation of a medieval hospital.
Lost Temple of Pharaoh Ptolemy IV
Egypt was home to one of the most prolific ancient civilizations, so it only makes sense that people are still finding treasure there on a fairly regular basis. Some finds are so amazing and historically significant that they leave the world staring in awe.
African Burial Ground (in Manhattan)
You would obviously expect to find an African burial ground in Africa, but where would you not expect to find one? Downtown Manhattan, perhaps? In 1991, excavation began in what is now Chinatown for a new federal building. When they broke ground, the workers found a 17th-century burial ground!
Famous Drug Lord's Secret Safe
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. As head of the Medellin Cartel, he was arguably the world's most powerful drug trafficker during his time. In 1992, Escobar was killed in a shootout with Colombian officials.
Few people enjoy snakes — most find them creepy, scary or downright gross — and even those who do like them don't want to be surprised by a massive reptile when they least expect it. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened to one unsuspecting Brazilian construction crew back in 2016.
1,300 Pounds of Ancient Roman Coins
Be honest — every time you walk down the beach, you dream of finding some ancient pirate booty washed up on shore so you can retire in paradise. One lucky construction crew got to experience that dream when they uncovered roughly 1,300 pounds of bronze and silver coins on a job site back in 2016.
What's weirder — digging up part of your backyard and finding human remains by surprise or expecting to find human remains and calling experts in advance? No details on where he got his hunch, but back in 2011, Vincent Marcello suspected he would find bodies when he decided to install a new pool.
Roughly Two Dozen Coffins
When human remains pop up right in the middle of a big city, it's often cause for alarm. Back in 2017, when construction crews in a highly populated area of Philadelphia unearthed dozens of fully intact bodies, residents weren't all that surprised.
When Muslim general Amr ibn al-As conquered Gaza in Palestine in 637 C.E., most residents adopted Islam as their new religion and abandoned their Christian roots. As a result, most of the old churches were abandoned and eventually forgotten and left to crumble and rot.
Young Girl's Casket
Unfortunately, the things construction workers find aren't always amazing or beautiful or fun. Sometimes, they are downright sad, like when contractors working on a home renovation in San Francisco found a child-sized casket. Sadly, finding coffins happens fairly often in the area.
At the start of the 12th century, Henry I was crowned King of England. Throughout his reign — and those after his — meticulous records were kept of large estates and land deeds. So, imagine the confusion when construction workers discovered a 12th-century mansion in 2013 that seemingly belonged to no one.
Unexploded World War II-Era Bomb
According to experts, it’s likely that thousands of unexploded World War II bombs remain scattered throughout Germany and the surrounding areas. It's so bad, in fact, that before any new construction can begin in Germany, the ground must be certified as cleared of unexploded ordnance.
Not all the finds on this list happened within recent history. This discovery goes back to 1850, when a Parisian couple who was having work done on their apartment made a gruesome discovery. During the renovation, a wall was removed — and a mummified baby fell out!
Centuries-Old Mass Burial Site
During the Spanish influenza epidemic, people were dying so quickly and in such great numbers that it was common for them to be buried in mass graves in fields with no markers. One unlucky construction worker in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, stumbled upon just this type of site in 2015.
43 Dinosaur Eggs
Finding just one dinosaur egg would make you feel like one of the luckiest people on Earth. Can you imagine finding 43 dinosaur eggs? A group of construction workers repairing a road in the Chinese city of Heyuan did just that in 2015 when they spotted some large stone-like items in a ditch.
1894 Time Capsule
Creating a time capsule can be a fun weekend activity. Children often put them together in elementary school as an entertaining class project. Most people never expect that anyone will actually find their treasures someday — but wouldn't it be fun if they did?
Viking Burial Pit
Vikings lived tough lives, full of hardship and violence. It's not surprising that many of them died in battle, and those deaths generally led to mass burial sites located all around the world. What would be a surprise is to find one of those mass burial sites during a routine task of modern life.
Gold and Silver Walls of a Mosque
Pretty much everyone who buys an old house hopes to find secret treasure tucked inside the walls or priceless artwork hidden in the attic. Of course, most people don’t find anything besides rusty cast-offs in the attic or cellar. Giuseppe Cadili and Valeria Giarrusso of Palermo, Italy, really lucked out with their old property.
American Revolution-Era Warship
Workers in Alexandria, Virginia, thought they were making way for a new 250-room waterfront hotel. What they were really doing was unearthing a nearly 300-year-old warehouse. Located just 8 feet underground, the fully intact foundation was believed to be part of the city's first public building.
Decades-Old Letter to Santa
In December 1943, the world was torn apart by war and gripped by fear. At the height of that conflict, one little boy took the time to write to Santa and place the letter carefully in his chimney. In part, it read, "Please can you send me a drum box of chalks . . . and any little toys you have to spare."
1,500-Year-Old Byzantine Church
In 2015, Israeli construction workers were performing routine maintenance on a road near Jerusalem when they made an amazing discovery: the remains of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church. A priceless piece of history, the main building had a white marble floor and a cruciform-shaped baptistery.
60,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth Tusk
As far as fossils go, it seems like woolly mammoth parts are fairly easy to come by these days. Still, you never expect to find one right where you live. When workers began demolition on a residential building in Seattle, they found a single, fossilized mammoth tusk directly beneath the foundation.
4-Million-Year-Old Whale Fossils
Over many millennia, the shapes and sizes of the continents have drastically changed. Some land masses that used to be connected are now thousands of miles apart. Some that used to be thousands of miles apart are now connected. Similarly, some land that used to be underwater is now above.
Israel is such an ancient country that relics and artifacts pop up all the time. Some, however, are more surprising than others. An 1,800-year-old, two-ton sarcophagus found by construction workers at a building site in 2015 is a great example.
1957 Time Capsule at MIT
This is the second time capsule to make it onto our list, although it was found in a completely different manner and was roughly 60 years younger than the first. In 2015, workers unearthed a 1957 time capsule buried between two buildings at MIT during an excavation.
Original Superman Comic
For comic book collectors, finding an original, mint condition old publication is a dream come true. Now, imagine finding two. Minnesota contractor David Gonzalez found the first Superman comic in mint condition while doing renovations on a 1938 home he owned. The comic sold for $175,000 at auction.
Dead bodies can pop up in the weirdest of places, as evidenced by all the mummies and mass burial sites on this list. Now, we have another one for you! In 2011, a construction crew working in the Jiangsu Province of eastern China found a mummified woman buried under a road.
Ancient Mayan Ball Court
Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is known for being the home of Tulum, a rare example of seaside Mayan ruins. Despite that proximity, experts were surprised when construction workers uncovered other ancient historical ruins during the construction of a housing project in 2006.
200,000-Year-Old Ice Age Fossils
In 2015, San Diego contractor Cornerstone Communities was working on a new 636-unit subdivision in Carlsbad, California, when they discovered dozens of Pleistocene (a.k.a. Ice Age) fossils buried in the lot. The collection of fossils included the skull of a giant bison, woolly mammoth bones and an assortment of horse and turtle parts.
121-Year-Old Bottle of Whiskey
You know what they say about whiskey — the older, the better! Of course, it’s also true that the older the bottle, the higher the price. So, we have to wonder...what's the going rate for a 121-year-old vintage these days? Some lucky workers may soon find out.