These archaeological findings unlocked the stories of our ancestors

Two centuries of excavations on six continents have given voice to a past that previously lay mostly hidden. Now breakthroughs in technology promise even more revelations.

PAINTING BY KADIR NELSON

Digging for treasure is as old as the first plundered grave.

The urge to uncover buried wealth has obsessed countless searchers, enriching a few and driving others to the brink of madness.

“There are certain men who spend nearly all their lives in seeking for—kan?z—hidden treasures,” wrote the British traveler Mary Eliza Rogers after she visited Palestine in the middle of the 19th century. “Some of them become maniacs, desert their families, and though they are often so poor that they beg their way from door to door, and from village to village, they believe themselves to be rich.”

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