A number of common home improvement tasks might require you to dig up parts of your backyard. Diverse remodeling tasks, ranging from installing patios and ponds, to fixing up the messes left by critters in your backyard, all necessitate getting your hands a bit dirty.
While you may not venture into your front or back yard with the intent of unearthing valuable treasures and artifacts, on occasion you may be shocked what you find when digging a hole to plant a tree, tilling your land, or planting a garden. Your average backyard project probably won’t include a call to your local archaeologist, but countless homeowners have unearthed odd and startling objects over time. Below are some of the most common surprises that people have when digging in their backyards.
1. Ancient Bones
Over the last 150 years, residents of Michigan have unearthed ancient fossil bones just by digging around. In 2012, two 11-year-old boys dug up a bone they initially thought was a cool rock to add to their collection. It ended up being a mastodon vertebra! While the average person will not come across such a rare find, you should submit photos of any large and uneasily identified bones to a nearby paleontologist just in case!
A more common discovery might be finding any number of other fossils, ranging from ancient shells, insects encased in amber, to petrified wood. Your local geological surveys might be able to provide helpful keys for identifying common fossils in backyards.
2. Ancient Artifacts
While you may not know what an ancient artifact looks like at first glance, you will surely take note of any unique pieces of art or tools that are uncovered when you are digging and working in your yard. In 2006 , a Washington state man found a 1,000-year-old Native American artifact while working on his rock garden. If you find something in your yard that appears to be some type of ancient artifact, you can have it authenticated by a local anthropologist or archeologist. While you might not be able to cash in immediately on your find, you can easily find joy in having excavated a part of history in your own backyard.
We have all heard of maps that lead to hidden treasures buried decades ago by pirates and thieves. But most of us would not go as far as to search for these buried treasures on our own. In 2013, someone did just that—by accident! A farmer who was searching for the keys he dropped in his field was surprised to find 14 medieval coins that dated back to the 14th and 15th centuries. (But unless you’re While it’s not exactly a pot of gold, each of these coins is worth $700-$800! If you find old coins in your yard or floating around your house (maybe in the back of a drawer!), you can take them to a coin store for authentication. The older the coins are the more specialized the coin dealer will need to be.
While you probably have to reside in Europe, Asia, or South America to find the world’s oldest hidden treasures, Americans have found their fair share of unearthed historical and fascinating objects as well.
4. Deceased Pets
While burying a pet in the backyard may not be uncommon, it can sure be a surprise when you find a pet that the previous home owner buried. From time to time, people even come across bones of bodies buried on their homestead instead of in a local cemetery. If you find bones that appear to be human, call your local police station to confirm that the bones are not part of a crime.
5. Time Capsules
Time capsules are a popular trend that many people bury at significant milestones in their lives. At the time a capsule is buried, it is intended to be found by future generations or uncovered by the creator several years down the road. While time capsules do not often contain items of material value, they can hold great personal value for the person that created them.
While it is more likely that you will find nothing other than dirt, rocks, worms and bugs when you are digging in your yard, keep your eye out for anything unexpected just in case!
Guest writer Ryan Diaz enjoys getting his hands dirty, and can frequently be found assisting homeowners with improvement and beautification projects in the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. He has come across many of the weird objects listed above while installing concrete in Houston-area homes.