Top 10 Most Popular Archaeology Stories of 2009

Vampires, pirates, ghost ships, skeletons—if it isn't Halloween, it can only be one thing: National Geographic News's annual lineup of our most popular archaeology coverage:

10. "Extraordinary" Ancient Skeletons Found
Several graves dating as far back as the early Stone Age—complete with the dog-tooth jewelry and sitting woman seen in these pictures—were discovered during extensive digs in central Germany, archaeologists announced this fall.

9. "Vampire" Exorcism Skull Found in Italy
The partial body and skull of a plague victim show her jaw forced open by a brick—a medieval exorcism technique used on suspected vampires—a forensic archaeologist explained in March.
 
8. Blackbeard Pirate Relics, Gold Found
A sword guard, tiny gold pieces, and a coin are among newfound artifacts from a shipwreck off North Carolina—shown in exclusive pictures. The discoveries, announced in March, add to evidence that the ship belonged to the pirate Blackbeard. 

7. World War II "Samurai Subs" Found—Carried Aircraft
Two advanced Japanese "samurai subs" were found off Pearl Harbor in February and announced in November—including a stealth aircraft-carrying submarine and a supersleek vessel engineered for utmost speed.
 
6. Huge Pre-Stonehenge Complex Found via "Crop Circles"
Given away by crop circle-like formations, the pre-Stonehenge site surprised archaeologists with temple ruins, dozens of burial mounds, and two huge tombs that are among "Britain's first architecture," experts said in June.
 
5. Mysterious Inscribed Slate Discovered at Jamestown
Archaeologists are trying to unravel the mysteries of an unusual, inscribed 400-year-old slate tablet they dug out of a well in the early American settlement in Virginia, we reported in June.
 
4. Ancient "King of Bling" Tomb Revealed in Peru
Packed with treasure in the styles of two ancient orders, the 1,500-year-old tomb is apparently like no other—and may help resolve mysteries of the Moche Indian civilization. • See pictures
 
3. Ancient Gem-Studded Teeth Show Skill of Early Dentists
The glittering "grills" of some hip-hop stars aren't exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a May study said.
 
2. Gold Hoard Found: Largest Known Anglo-Saxon Treasure
Found in July by an amateur treasure hunter in England, the largest known Anglo-Saxon gold hoard is rich with precious stones and intricately wrought war gear.
 
1. Gold Rush-Era "Ghost Ship" Wreck Found
With boots thrown hastily on deck and cooking utensils scattered, the last moments of the crew aboard the gold rush-era paddleboat A.J. Goddard are preserved in the ship's recently found wreck, archaeologists announced in November.

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