A small slave badge engraved with the year ‘1853’ that was discovered in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this year is one of Archaeology Magazine’s top 10 discoveries in 2021.
The square, copper item served as a permit, allowing the servant to work in the city and away from their owner who paid anywhere from $10 to $35 for the tag.
The badge made Archaeology Magazine’s list because Charleston was the only US location to provide the working permit, making the artifact a very rare discovery.
The list also includes the discovery of Egypt’s 3,500-year-old Golden City that is deemed the most significant find since King Tutankhamun and footprints found in New Mexico made by the earliest humans to trek across America 23,000 years ago.
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Archaeology Magazine has been published for more than 70 years by the Archaeological Institute of America and the top 10 list will appear in the magazine’s January/February 2022 issue, which is set to hit newsstands this week.
Marley Brown, associate editor of Archaeology Magazine, said in a statement: ‘We felt the tag had to be included because it’s a reminder of an individual who may otherwise have been lost to time and to the dehumanizing system of enslavement
‘What’s more, the fact that the College of Charleston team recovered the object from its archaeological context provides a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the person who may once have worn it — a real gift considering many of these tags have no provenance.’
The tag was found at the College of Charleston, which suggests the servant lost their permit while working to build that was constructed in 1785.
This is the oldest higher education institution south of Virginia and the 13th oldest in the US.
Slave tags started in the 18th century and were used up until 1865.
They were typically stamped with a date, occupation (fisher, servant, porter, etc.) and registration number.
It was used as proof that the enslaved person’s owner had approved this person to work for someone else and outside of the owner's location.
The tag was discovered at an excavation site at 63½ Coming St, where a solar pavilion was set to be built.
Because the school received federal dollars from the US Department of Energy through the South Carolina Department of Energy to complete the project, an investigation into the area had to be completed.
The digging began in February, and in March, the slave badge surfaced and was officially announced in June.
Jim Newhard, a classics professor, landscape architect and director of the college’s Center for Historical Landscapes, said in a statement: ‘You felt the evil.
‘It redoubled in my mind that not only was this artifact an expression of enslavement, so were the other objects we were recovering.’
This year has produced several amazing discoveries, with Egypt’s Golden City making Archaeology Magazine’s list for being the largest ancient city to be uncovered in Luxor.
Announced on April 8, excavations uncovered bakeries, workshops and burials of animals and humans, along with jewelry, pots and mud bricks bearing seals of Amenhotep III.
The team initially set out to discover Tutankhamun's Mortuary Temple, where the young king was mummified and received status rites, but they stumbled upon something far greater.
Betsy Brian, Professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University in Baltimore USA, said 'The discovery of this lost city is the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun'.
'The discovery of the Lost City, not only will give us a rare glimpse into the life of the Ancient Egyptians at the time where the Empire was at his wealthiest but will help us shed light on one of history's greatest mystery: why did Akhenaten & Nefertiti decide to move to Amarna.'
The city sits between Rameses III's temple at Medinet Habu and Amenhotep III's temple at Memnon.
Excavations began September 2020 and within weeks, archaeologists uncovered formations made of mud bricks.
Another top discovery is the ancient human footprints found in New Mexico in September,.
The 23,000-year-old prints were discovered by British and American archaeologists working at Alkali Flat, a dry lakebed at White Sands National Park.
The prints - which are flat, a possible sign the people were barefoot - reveal more than just a date, the researchers say. They offer a glimpse into what life was like during the Upper Paleolithic Era, which started about 40,000 years ago.
Most were left by teens and younger children, with occasional tracks from adults, as well as some from mammoths, giant ground sloths, and dire wolves.
Other amazing discoveries for this year include the world's oldest artwork found in September in Tibet, earliest leatherwork that was uncovered in Morocco and a Bronze Age map unearthed in France, along with a life-size camel carving that is t he oldest animal artwork in history.
Archaeology magazine also lists the Newfoundland settlement that shows Vikings set foot in the New World 1,000 years ago, beating Christopher Columbus by 471 years.
Also included is a rare boundary marker in Italy and a mass crusader grave found in Lebanon.
The world's oldest artworks is a sequence of five hand and footprints that are thought to date back some 226,000 years.
The impressions, first discovered on a rocky outcrop in Quesang back in 2018, are at least three to four times older than the cave paintings of France, Indonesia and Spain.
The leather working tools, excavated from Contrebandiers Cave near the Atlantic coast of Morocco, are made of animal bones and were fashioned into shapes that look like human hands.
Archaeologists say the tools were made from animal rib bones that date back between 120,000 and 90,000 years ago.
The Bronze Age map discovery is a massive stone that was uncovered in France in April is thought to be Europe's oldest map.
A team of French scientists determined the markings were etched 4,000 years ago and depict an area in Western Brittany, France.
The slab, dubbed Saint-Bélec Slab, includes elements the team says they would expect in a prehistoric map - including 'repeated motifs joined by lines to give the layout of a map.
Then there is another ancient rock that made the list - a stone that once outlined the city limits of ancient Rome, dating from the age of Emperor Claudius in AD 49.
And the most gruesome discovery to make the list is a two mass graves containing 25 Crusaders who were slaughtered during a 13th-century war in the Holy Land have been unearthed in Lebanon.
Wounds on the remains suggests the soldiers died at the end of swords, maces and arrows, and charring on some bones means they were burned after being dropped into the pit.