Can You Dig It? The Archaeological Discoveries Quiz


By: Bambi Turner

4 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Archaeologists sift through soil to unravel the stories of past generations. Their work reveals clues about ancient people and places and teaches us why civilizations rise and fall. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the most amazing archaeological discoveries, past and present!

What year did modern archaeologists begin unburying the Sphinx from the sands of Egypt?

Built around 2500 BC, the Great Sphinx was buried up to its shoulders by the time archaeologists began excavating at the site in 1817. It wasn't until 1936 that the statue was completely uncovered and its head was fully restored. Evidence at the site suggests earlier excavations were also attempted, one as early as 1400 BC.


How many soldiers make up the Terracotta Army?

Around 200 BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China ordered the construction of 6,000 terracotta soldiers to protect his tomb. In one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century, local residents stumbled upon the buried army of life-sized soldiers in 1974. Each of the statues has its own unique face and expression, making them appear like individual people.


When was Machu Picchu built?

The incredible Inca city of Machu Picchu was built impossibly high in the Andes of Peru way back in the 15th century, then abandoned within the next century. It lay undisturbed until 1911, when explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon the well-preserved site.


What country is home to the Bagan archaeological site?

The 200,000 residents of of Bagan, Burma built more than 10,000 Buddhist temples between the 11th and 13th centuries, then abandoned the area after repeated Mongol invasions. Around 2,000 of the temples are still standing today.


What modern country is home the remains of the ancient city of Troy?

Excavations at Troy in Turkey began in 1870 in the modern country of Turkey. The siege of the city was immortalized in "The Iliad," but artifacts at the site suggest that the area has been occupied for more than 8,000 years.


Where did archaeologists locate the missing city of Heracleion?

Heracleoin was the largest port in Egypt during its peak between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. An earthquake doomed the city, sending most of it underwater, where it was rediscovered in 2000.


What group lived in Chactun, Mexico?

The Mayans built the 54-acre city of Chactun on the Yucatan Peninsula between 600 and 900 AD. The artifact-rich site was located in 2013 using LIDAR -- a special form of radar that uses pulsed lasers.


How many Moai are on Easter Island?

Islanders built around 900 of the famous statues between 1250 and 1500, and many of them were still standing by the time Europeans first reached the island in 1722. Excavations began in earnest in the 20th century and many people are surprised to learn that those giant heads are actually attached to stone bodies buried under the earth.


What country is home to the Nazca lines?

Between 500 BC and 500 AD, people in Peru created dozens of shapes and images in the earth, the largest of which is 1,200 feet long. Many are lines or shapes, but around 70 consist of pictures of animals or people. It wasn't until airplanes became widely used in the 20th century that archaeologists could get a full picture of these large-scale images.


What is the site at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey best known for?

Also known as Potbelly Hill, Gobekli Tepe is home to the oldest-known monoliths -- stone pillars. There are more than 200 pillars weighing in at up to 20 tons each and many feature elaborate carvings. The pillars were erected more than 11,000 years ago.


How many people lived in Caral, Peru at its peak?

Built in 2600 BC, Caral is the oldest-known city in the Americas and was once home to 3,000 people. It consists of a massive stone temple and a series of connected homes or rooms, and was abandoned by 2000 BC. The site was rediscovered in the Peruvian jungle in 1948, but excavations didn't begin until the 1970s.


What is Lalibela, Ethiopia known for?

The people of Lalibela carved 11 elaborate stone churches in the 13th century, attempting to create a New Jerusalem for those unable to travel to the Holy Land safely. The churches are still standing and many are perfectly preserved, providing visitors to the site with a glimpse into the past.


Where is the Knossos site located?

Knossos represents one of the largest Bronze Age sites in Europe and was likely founded around 7000 BC. Excavations began in the 20th century and have yielded important finds, including a lost language known as Linear B.


In the Indiana Jones movies, the Ark of the Covenant was hidden in this Egyptian city.

Tanis may not be the home to the Ark of the Covenant, but the city does offer important clues to the past. In 1866, archaeologists discovered the Decree of Canopus at the site. Like the Rosetta Stone, it's a tablet written in both Egyptian and Greek and has proved a useful tool for deciphering ancient hieroglyphics.


What U.S. state is home to the Chimney Rock site?

The Chaco culture thrived around 1,000 years ago at Chimney Rock in the modern state of Colorado. Though the site was abandoned around 1125, more than 200 structures still stand at Chimney Rock and excavations have been ongoing since the 1960s.


What country is home to Angkor Wat?

Construction at Angkor Wat began around the 12th century with a series of Hindu temples. Later structures are primarily Buddhist and the intricately-detailed temples stretch over 500 acres in the Cambodian jungle.


What modern country is home to the ancient city of Palmyra?

The city of Palmyra, Syria had its peak between the 1st and 3rd centuries and was abandoned after a Roman invasion in 272, leaving many impressive stone structures abandoned. While Palmyra was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, many of its ancient structures have recently been destroyed by ISIS.


What year did a volcanic eruption bury Pompeii?

A massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii under a thick layer of ash in 79 AD. More than 20,000 people lost their lives, but both bodies and structures were remarkably well-preserved. Excavations of the site began in 1748 and continue today.


What is the dig site at La Bastida in Spain most famous for?

In 2012, archaeologists found evidence of impressive fortifications that suggest La Bastida was the most fortified city in Europe during its 2200 BC peak. Not only do the remains of walls and towers surround the area, but scientists have found multiple layers of arched gateways that were used to keep invaders out.


What country is home to the ancient city of Rakhigarhi?

Built around 4600 BC, Rakhigarhi is India's largest dig site and appears to have been the largest site in the Indus Valley. Ongoing excavations since the 1960s have revealed an elaborately planned city, completed with roads and a sewer system.


What modern country is home to the ancient city of Jerash?

Known for its impressive temples and stone residences, Jerash, Jordan was constructed around 2000 BC, then abandoned in 749 after a major earthquake. Excavations began in 1806 when the lost city was rediscovered beneath the desert sand.


Coba, Mexico is home to the tallest known pyamid on the Yucatan.

The city housed 50,000 people at its peak between 600 and 900 AD. It's also home to the tallest pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula -- a 79-foot-tall structure known as the Nohoch Mul -- as well as numerous smaller pyramids.


The temples at Mahendraparvata are older than the ones at Angkor Wat.

Just 25 miles from Angkor Wat lies Mahendraparvata. Rediscovered in 2012, the site predates Angkor Wat by around 300 years, and archaeologists have already uncovered at least five elaborate Buddhist temples.


The Amazon has never supported large populations or cities.

Percy Fawcett disappeared in the jungle in 1925 searching for a mysterious city he was sure lay hidden in the Amazon. In 2008, archaeologists discovered that he may have been right. While the harsh jungle conditions always led scientists to assume that no city could possibly thrive there, recent excavations have found elaborate roads and cities that may have supported as many as 50,000 people.


Ephesus, Turkey is home to the remains of this ancient Wonder of the World.

The Greek port city of Ephesus was built around 10,000 BC. In 1869, archaeologists searching the site located remains from the Temple of Artemis. Many of these remains are now in a museum, and only a single pillar and a few foundation walls mark the Temple's original location in Ephesus.


What country is home to the Longman Grottoes?

The Longmen Grottoes in China's Henan Province consist of more than 2,300 caves, which were carved into cliffs between the 5th and 6th century. These caves house more than 110,000 images of the Buddha.


What is unusual about the ancient city of Catalhoyuk?

Around 10,000 people called Catalhoyuk home at its peak in 7000 BC. Excavations began at the site in modern Turkey in 1958, and while plenty of homes and artifacts remain, there's no evidence of any public buildings at all on the site.


What African country is home to Kilwa Kisiwani island?

Kilwa Kisiwani served as a critical port city in Tanzania from the 13th to the 16th century. A mosque built on the island during the 11th century had the largest dome in all of Africa until the 19th century. The mosque and many other coral and limestone buildings still remain on the site, largely intact.


What group of people lived in the cities of Lagunita and Tamchen, Mexico?

The Mayans settled at Lagunita and Tamchen around 250 AD and built homes, temples, roads and plazas before abandoning the site in 1000 AD. Rediscovered in 2014, the site still yields much more work for archaeologists.


A lost Honduran city rediscovered in 2015 was named for this animal.

"Were-jaguar" statues discovered at the lost city, which was occupied between 1000 and 1520 AD, have led archaeologists to dub the site the City of the Jaguar.


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