10 Archaeological Discoveries Hidden Under The Sahara’s Sand

For centuries, people have been fascinated by the stretch of sand that covers much of North Africa and parts of the Middle East. Now, archaeologists are using new technology to uncover secrets hidden beneath the Sahara sand. 

The Sahara desert is one of the world’s most extensive areas of sand. It covers more than two million square miles and extends from the north of Morocco all the way to Egypt. But that hasn’t stopped archaeologists from uncovering some of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries ever made. Here are 10 amazing archaeological discoveries hidden under the Sahara’s sand. 

1 Spinosaurus

Fossilized remains of an aquatic dinosaur belonging to the group Spinosaurus were found by paleontologists in Moroccan Sahara. This is one of the largest and most detailed fossils ever found in the region and belonged to a fish-eating creature, with a long protruding snout more akin to a crocodile. This had dense bones, lacked hind limbs and was probably excellent at handling buoyancy. The tail is likewise huge, resembling a giant paddle.

In this area, which we now call the Sahara Desert, there were massive rivers that housed big fish. The currents of the ocean were different in these regions, and the seafood is found in an ecosystem that had no predators. The coelacanth, 25-foot long sawfish and giant lungfish are just some of the animals that lived here.

2 Ancient Cemetery

In 2000, scientists discovered an ancient cemetery containing more than 200 graves. It is the largest from the Stone Age found in the Sahara and includes skeletons dating back 10,000 years. The purpose of this expedition was to hunt for dinosaur bones in addition to other fossils on a research conducted through National Geographic Society while Paul Sereno led the project. Based on their findings, they are theorizing that two different cultures long ago called Kiffians and Tenerians lived in the Gobero region before becoming inundated with drought that lasted one thousand years before renewing the area’s land. These discoveries incite many questions and answer very few, but they illuminate the daily life of people living there thousands of years ago.

3 Ancient River Network Under Saharan Sands

The ancient river system carried muddied water to the vast Atlantic Ocean via a vast channel in Mauritania. The buried river is believed to have been the proposed Tamanrasset River by prehistoric archaeologists, which flowed from the south-central parts of Morocco, Algeria, and Western Sahara. This was one of many rivers that carried water to this region during humid spells up to 5,000 years ago.

This discovery reveals more evidence confirming the existence of such a large anaerobic canyon that used to help sustain life across the Azores Ridge and throughout pockets of land around our current landscape. This new discovery confirms what we previously had assumed, building on existing discoveries in Europe and China, who also found similar channels from ancient times as well. Water flows that were dramatically destructive but were momentarily powerful every 10,000 years like those off Taiwan today.

4 Libyan Desert Glass

Finally, after 30 million years of mystery, the origin of the yellow glass found all over Earth’s desert regions has been identified. Libyan desert glass is a type of naturally occurring glass that is found in the eastern stretches of the Sahara desert and Egypt. The materials’ uncommon yellow color was used decoratively by Tutankhamun, but this kind of colorful glass has been around a lot longer than that.

The unique material has been dated back to 29 million years ago, and never fully understood because scientists believe one theory or another about its origins. It’s become a topic for debate among researchers to decide whether it formed during an airburst or during a meteorite impact.

5 Monster Crocodile

Scientists recently uncovered the fossil remains of what is thought to be the biggest sea-dwelling crocodile (Machimosaurus rex) ever found, in Tunisia on the edge of the Sahara desert. This 30 foot tall creature would have weighed at least 3 tons and stretched out 5 feet at its widest point. When it died, it was also much larger than modern day’s “biggest living croc.” While smaller than their African relative, Machimosaurus rex, which discovered this ancient find, Machimosaurus rex was still several times the size of a human and managed to consume five tons of prey on its own.

As mentioned by various scientists, Teleosaurids are the crocodiles that were believed to have gone extinct after Machimosaurus roamed the earth. The new discovery shows that freshwater crocodiles like Sarcosuchus could also survive outside their native river systems and they are supposed to have roamed the Earth 110 million years ago.

6 Nabta Stones

The megalith monuments used basalt stone to mark the summer solstice and the arrival of the monsoons in the Nabta Playa complex. They are located some 700 miles outside of Giza and 60 miles west of the Nile. The most significant structure amongst them is a calendar stone circle made up of four large slabs forming an oval around a medium-sized one. Experts believe that since these stones were mainly intended for aligning with Sirius and Arcturus, they also aligned with Alpha Centauri, Orion’s Belt and even with other stars over thousands of years ago.

In contrast to the rest of the world, Nabta Playa left behind many megalithic monuments thousands of years ago. Some archaeologists believe that this is where people first began civilizing and creating cities around the world thousands of years later. Over time, they constructed numerous stone circles, underground tombs and huge stone slabs to use their alignments to make a time-measuring calendar. One of the most significant structures left behind at Nabta Playa was a stone circle with an astronomical significance dating back 7,000 years. Scientists have made connections between the ancient stone circle that has been used as an observation to gauge when rain would begin in summer times, which is associated with a major change in weather patterns.

7 Lake Mega Chad

The world’s largest desert, the Sahara, is of recent origin, having grown greatly since the 20th century. Lake Chad, which saw its greatest extent 7,000-6,000 years ago in size – 3 times that of the Caspian Sea – allowed 70 million people to drink from it. With the recent decline in size, it has only been a shadow of what it once was. Even so, the North African climate changed and dried out around 5,000 years ago; but 6-7 thousand years ago it reached its maximum and much larger extent than today.

8 Lost Libya Civilization

A lost civilization of the Sahara was unearthed by archaeologists in one of the harshest parts of the African desert in Libya. Traditional sources had suggested that these remains were formed by nomadic communities, but this is not true. Deemed “lost cities’, their walls are still standing 13 feet (4 meters) high and date back to AD 1-500. Many have seen this discovery as evidence that a lot has changed under Gadhafi’s regime, but experts have discovered that when colonization first came about in Libya, it uncovered a civilization full of sophisticated settlements and technologies.

This evidence supports the idea that despite how hot it has been lately, mankind has been attempting to farm in the area constantly since then and having some amount as result in maintaining its structures over time. The inhabitants were able to maintain an advanced rule with towns and villages and a written language. Most significant historically is their success in trading with other people in the middle east before they disappeared from history.

9 Valley of The Whales

There are many places around the world that are home to ancient fossils, but Wadi al-Hitan has been discovered to be extremely unique. Ancient fossils of whale bones were found in this vast desert in Egypt, complete with whales spanning into an era as far back as 53 million years ago. While it is believed that modern-day whales evolved from this early species, almost nothing is known about these even older creatures besides their enormous size and distinct features.

It’s also suggested they may have migrated as far as North America, making them the earliest relative of today’s whales who have learned to adapt and evolve over time. The extinct oasis, Whale Valley apparently had a thriving population of other marine animals like sharks, crocodiles, and turtles until it dried out over time. This was once a watery habitat for wildlife; however now only whale skeletons remain.

10 Prehistoric Mega Lake

In 2010, scientists discovered evidence of a prehistoric mega-lake that spanned over 420 square miles and formed in the eastern Sahara. They were able to locate the ancient water body by analyzing radar data, creating a profile of the mega-lake with windblown sediments and bedrock below, and studying fish remains as a marker for its highest shoreline. If confirmed, this location would have been one hundred times larger than the Nile River at its largest extent.

The ancient lake would have extended some 250 miles west of the Nile River and it was thought to be 810 ft above sea level. The scientists placed Paleolithic settlements close to what they believed were the lake’s borders, suggesting that water was desirable near these locations.