Artifacts

The Tuxtla statuette, discovered in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1902, now resides in the National Museum of Natural History.

What Secrets Does This 1,800-Year-Old Carved Stone Hold?

The Tuxtla Statuette illuminates an endangered Latin American culture

Hobby Lobby acquired the cuneiform tablet for display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

Smuggled Gilgamesh Dream Tablet Returns to Iraq

Forfeited by Hobby Lobby in July, the ancient artifact will be repatriated in a ceremony held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

Experts say the cache is one of the largest and most significant of its kind ever found in Denmark.

Cool Finds

Amateur Treasure Hunter Discovers Trove of Sixth-Century Gold Jewelry

Found in Denmark, most of the 22 objects are bracteates, or medallions inscribed with mystical symbols

Alula Pankhurst, a member of Ethiopia’s National Heritage Restitution Committee, calls the objects' return the “single most significant heritage restitution in Ethiopia’s history.”

Looted Maqdala Treasures Returned to Ethiopia After 150 Years

A nonprofit foundation purchased the objects, which were seized by British troops in 1868, with the aim of restituting them

Some prehistoric stone spheres found in Scotland feature carved ridges and spirals. This one's surface is polished smooth.

Cool Finds

Polished, 5,500-Year-Old Stone Balls Found in Neolithic Scottish Tomb

The rare artifacts were probably used as both weapons and symbols of power

Flight attendant Lorraine Bay carefully recorded every flight she worked in this log book, found near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

September 11

Thirty-One Smithsonian Artifacts That Tell the Story of 9/11

From a Pentagon rescuer's uniform to a Flight 93 crew log, these objects commemorate the 20th anniversary of a national tragedy

Three firefighters—George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Bill Eisengrein—raising the American flag on September 11, 2001. This last of the series remains the most striking, yet least-known depiction of this scene.

September 11

A Lesser-Known Photo of an Iconic 9/11 Moment Brings Shades of Gray to the Day's Memory

On the 20th anniversary of the attacks, photographers who immortalized the famous scene reflect on what their images capture and what remains out of frame

Workers discovered a trove of rare gold coins, pictured here, in the walls of a historic French mansion in 2019. Now, the coins are going up for auction.

Cool Finds

Trove of 239 Rare Gold Coins Discovered in Walls of French Mansion

Renovators discovered a hidden box and pouch stuffed with rare gold coins, minted during the reigns of French Kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV

Some of the vessels contained residue from an alcoholic brew.

Cool Finds

Remains of 9,000-Year-Old Beer Found in China

The lightly fermented beverage contained rice, tubers and fungi

Smithsonian Voices

How the Smithsonian Collected Artifacts That Told the Story of Hurricane Katrina

The Great Synagogue of Vilna was built in the 1630s.

Cool Finds

Remains of Lithuanian Synagogue Destroyed by Nazis and Soviets Unearthed

Excavations uncovered the Great Synagogue of Vilna's Torah ark, impressive staircases, a raised prayer platform and more

Archaeologists hope the flowers will shed new light on rituals conducted by the ancient residents of Teotihuacán.

Cool Finds

1,800-Year-Old Flower Bouquets Found in Tunnel Beneath Teotihuacán Pyramid

The well-preserved plants were likely used in a ritual ceremony

R2-D2 droid costume featured in the movie Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, currently not on display at the museum

Smithsonian Voices

Why Isn't My Favorite Artifact on View at the Smithsonian?

These are just a few of the many reasons a specific object might not be on display at a museum

SpongeBob on a stick is the closest we come today to the forgotten fad of molded ice cream.

The Lost Art of Molding Ice Cream Into Eagles, Tugboats and Pineapples

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ice cream makers used metal casts to create fanciful desserts

Pocket watch with engraved, gold-plated case found on the body of postal clerk John Starr March. The hands point to 1:27, around when the Titanic sank on the morning of April 15, 1912.

What a Watch Tells Us About the Titanic's Final Hours

The handheld item, belonging to an American crew member, stopped minutes before the ship sank

The Iron Age sculpture is one of only a dozen of its kind found in Ireland to date.

Cool Finds

Eight-Foot-Tall, 1,600-Year-Old Statue of Pagan Deity Found in Ireland

The well-preserved wooden sculpture may have been part of a ritual site where animal sacrifices were carried out

Researchers successfully recovered one of the two prehistoric timbers.

Cool Finds

5,000-Year-Old Wooden Stakes Discovered at Neolithic Site in Scotland

Excavations at Orkney's Ness of Brodgar revealed two prehistoric pieces of timber

The key handle depicts a "barbarian" fending off a lion as four young onlookers watch in horror.

Cool Finds

Did Officials in Roman Britain Throw Condemned Prisoners to the Lions?

A key handle unearthed in Leicester suggests executions in imperial colonies involved wild animals

Finds ranged from a portrait of Adolf Hitler to a revolver, gas masks, Nazi Party badges, brass knuckles, letters and documents.

Trove of Nazi Artifacts Found Stashed in Wall of German House

Likely hidden as the Allies advanced on the city at the end of WWII, the cache includes gas masks, a revolver and boxes of documents

“With this new tablet, we can actually see for the first time why they were interested in geometry: to lay down precise land boundaries,” says researcher Daniel Mansfield.

Babylonians Used Applied Geometry 1,000 Years Before Pythagoras

Calculations inscribed on a clay tablet helped ancient people document property boundaries, new research suggests

loading icon