There are some instances in which a particular museum attraction draws more people in than the museum itself. For instance, there are millions of people that purchase an entrance ticket at the Louvre for the sole purpose of snapping a photo of Mona Lisa alone.
History’s greatest heritages are now scattered all over the globe, fostered between the walls of a variety of museums worldwide. In this list, we’ll narrow down some of the most fascinating ancient artifacts currently exhibited and where any interested visitor can find them.
The Rosetta Stone
Location: British Museum, London
Discovered in 1799, the Rosetta Stone is a rock dating back to 196 BC. On its surface, stands inscribed a decree issued on behalf of King Ptolemy V, ruler of Egypt at the time. The intriguing part about this historic piece is the fact that the decree was embedded in three different languages – the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek.
Because of the three different languages, the Rosetta Stone became one of the most important ancient artifacts because of this contribution to helping decipher and find the secret to Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Tutankhamun’s Gold Mask
Location: Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Not only is the burial mask of the legendary pharaoh considered to be one of the greatest works of art in history, but it’s also become a trademark of Ancient Egypt. In 1925, a team of researchers discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb within the heart of the Valley of Kings. Aside from finding the pharaoh’s mummy in the sarcophagus, they also discovered the gold-coated funeral mask.
With the mask having become a staple for the ruler’s image, many people had a hard time accepting the result of some studies conducted in 2001, which uncovered the possibility that the mask was never destined for Tutankhamun to begin with. According to several Egyptologists, it may have been created for Queen Neferneferuaten. This theory is backed up by the fact that her name was found, partly erased, in a cartouche on the mask.
Location: Capitoline Museums, Rome
It’s only natural that one of Rome’s greatest museums would be the one to house one of Rome’s biggest symbols. The Capitoline Wolf is the iconic bronze statue which depicts a she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, believed in Roman mythology to have been the ones to found the legendary city.
A fascinating aspect about this statue is the controversy surrounding its date of creation. It’s already been established that the she-wolf was created first, with the twins being added in afterward roughly 3-4 centuries later. While it was initially believed that the wolf was an Etruscan work as old as the year 5 BC, further investigations revealed that it was crafted much later, during the dawn of the Medieval Ages.
The Aztec Sun Stone
Location: National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
This ancient artifact has been the focal point of apocalyptic prophecies and controversies for the longest of times. The Aztec Sun Stone is the star of a Mexican museum, with hundreds of thousands of visitors crossing its threshold in order to have a look at the ancient calendar that made so many believe 2012 would mark the end of humanity.
The stone calendar was nearly lost as a result of the Spanish conquest. It was discovered again at the end of the 18th century during the restoration process of the Mexico City Cathedral. It was mounted on its exterior wall for several decades.
The Only Viking Helmet
Location: Museum of Cultural History, Oslo
With all the fuss around Vikings and their culture, it would seem pretty obvious that there would be plenty of artifacts that can be dated back to the ages of glory of the great Scandinavian warriors. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case. Although in media portrayals and many other forms of representation Vikings are seen wearing horned helmets that have become their trademarks, they weren’t actually based on anything solid. This is because only one legitimate helmet was found that can be linked to the Viking Era.
During the most ardent moments of World War II, in 1943, a team of explorers discovered in the then-Nazi occupied Norway a burial mound which sheltered the remains of two Scandinavian men. Next to them, several Viking objects were discovered too. Alongside some swords, axes, and spearheads, a single helmet was retrieved. It allegedly dates back to the year 900, having almost certainly covered the head of a king. Today, the helmet is exhibited to the public on the shelves of the Museum of Cultural History from Oslo and remains a unique piece of its kind.