Standing on wooden steps that protect a 3,300-year-old stone staircase, Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass poses in 2009 in a mysterious tunnel that links the ancient tomb of Pharaoh Seti I to ... nothing.
After three years of hauling out rubble and artifacts via a railway-car system (rails visible at left), the excavators hit a wall, the team announced in July. It seems the ancient workers who created the steep tunnel under Egypt's Valley of the Kings near Luxor (map) abruptly stopped after cutting 572 feet (174 meters) into rock.
Nearly a century after Capt. Robert Falcon Scott explored the southern continent, experts are working to save the British explorer's wooden hut (pictured on Ross Island, Antarctica, in August 2006) and three others in the area from slipping under the snow forever.
The sanctuary measures 50 feet (15 meters) long and 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide and was built to house up to 33 men.
Scott and his crew stayed at the hut before their ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in January 1912. Scott and four others died after being beaten to the pole by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
In a picture released September 1—the 25th anniversary of the rediscovery of the R.M.S. Titanic—rust "icicles" plague bow railings and anchor equipment on the 2.4-mile-deep (3.8-kilometer-deep) shipwreck.
This and other images of Titanic taken in late August are among the first results of the ongoing Expedition Titanic. Its goals: to use acoustic imaging, sonar, and 3-D video to virtually preserve Titanic in its current state and to help determine just how far gone the shipwreck is and how long it might last.
Photograph courtesy Premier Exhibitions, Inc. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
7. 12 Ancient Landmarks Vanishing
Damaged frescoes in the Church of St. Gregory of Tigran Honents tell a story of neglect in the medieval city of Ani, now part of Turkey.
Sitting in a militarized zone near the current Turkish-Armenian border, the city is one of 12 cultural sites on the verge of collapse, according to a report released in October by the San Francisco, California-based Global Heritage Fund.
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, National Geographic Stock
5. "Mythical" Temple Found
A thousand-year-old temple complex (including a tomb with human sacrifice victims, shown in a digital illustration) has been found under the windswept dunes of northwestern Peru, archaeologists announced in January.
The discovery of the complex, excavated near the city of Chiclayo (map) between 2006 and late 2009, injected a dose of reality into the legend of Naylamp, the god who supposedly founded the pre-Inca Lambayeque civilization in the eighth century A.D., following the collapse of the Moche civilization.
Airborne lasers have "stripped" away thick rain forests to reveal new images of an ancient Maya metropolis that's far bigger than anyone had thought.
An April 2009 flyover of the Maya city of Caracol used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment—which bounces laser beams off the ground—to help scientists construct a 3-D map of the settlement in western Belize.
The recent decoding of a cryptic cup, the excavation of ancient Jerusalem tunnels, and other archaeological detective work may help solve one of the great biblical mysteries: Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The new clues, revealed in July, hint that the scrolls, which include some of the oldest known biblical documents, may have been the textual treasures of several groups, hidden away during wartime—and may even be "the great treasure from the Jerusalem Temple," which held the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Bible.