Interesting discoveries when excavating land

Most construction projects require a mini excavator or larger excavator hire from a plant hire company to dig below the layer of the surface as the first phase of a development takes shape. Preparing the land for later foundations, pipes and sewerage, and the upper layer of construction is a vital part of the process, but what happens if during the excavation process you uncover an item you weren’t expecting to see?

There have been some very interesting discoveries when excavating land. We’ve looked at a few of the more interesting finds:

Pablo Escobar’s Safe

During the demolition of a pink Miami Beach mansion in 2016 that was once owned by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, an interesting find came about. A construction worker was knocking down the walls with an excavator and found a hidden, locked safe within the foundations. We know that Pablo ended up with millions of dollars buried and decomposing in the jungle and across many different sites, so it’s no surprise really that there would be some hidden in the foundations of one of his mansions.

Roman Site in Gloucester

Part of a construction project to develop and convert the old Debenham’s store in Gloucester into a university campus ended up with an interesting find after the local council commissioned archaeologists to look at the foundations of the store prior to any development work commencing. Roman remains, a wall, cobbled street, and the original site of St Aldate’s Church from the 18th century were all uncovered on the site.

A time capsule from the past

Remember at school when the teachers made us put together some cherished items that we loved right then and there. You’d place your favourite football sticker, a cassette or CD with your favourite tunes on, a diary, a newspaper from the day, into a tube and bury it on the school grounds. The idea is that sometime in the future it’ll be found and opened to give a glimpse into the past. That’s exactly what happened when a construction team found a rusty metal box whilst working on the Ruthvern Bridge in Scotland. They found inside a paper scroll, a 121-year-old bottle of whiskey and a newspaper clipping from 1894!

A live WWII bomb

In the UK we’re used to seeing news of bombs from the second world war being dug up in people’s back gardens every now and then, but most of the time they are harmless and not live. Workers in Belgrade found a one-ton German bomb in 2013 that had 620 kilograms of live explosives. The site was immediately evacuated and 1,200 people in the surrounding area were asked to leave too. The bomb had so much power that it was believed it could have destroyed 400 metres of land around it if it had gone off. Bomb detonation experts were tasked with extracting it in case of explosion. A scary find for any construction worker!

A 700-year-old mummy

Construction workers in the Jiangsu Province of China were shocked when they found an extremely large box back in 2011. Archaeologists were called in to help and found a well-preserved mummified woman from the time of the Ming Dynasty. A construction crew found the woman, submerged in a brown liquid, under a road that was being worked on. It is estimated the mummy is over 700 years old.

It is very interesting to think about the wild things that have been discovered during the excavation phase of everyday developments in cities across the world. We see construction workers with mini excavators and other machines from plant hire companies and it’s exciting to think they could be one dig away from discovering an exciting time capsule from the past, a criminal’s safe, or a Roman town.

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