Earlier this year, DNA tests confirmed that the bones found under a parking lot in Leicester, England, were those of King Richard III.
The skeleton is just one of many surprising discoveries unearthed at construction sites. Here's a sampling:
Site: Road construction in Dorset, England
Find: Mass grave of headless Vikings
Discovery date: June 2009
Details: A total of 51 headless skeletons was found during an archaeological survey prior to road construction in southern England. The skeletons, which were tangled together in a pit, are believed to have been Vikings killed between A.D. 890 and 1034. Some of the skeletons were riddled with hack marks, probably from swords and axes. No trace of clothing was found in the pit, suggesting that the men were buried naked.
Site: Subway construction in Istanbul, Turkey
Find: Ancient Byzantine port of Theodosius
Discovery date: June 2006
Details: Workers stumbled upon the remains of a port more than 1,500 years old while building a rail tunnel. The Port of Theodosius, as archaeologists call it, was built in the fourth century A.D. when Istanbul was known as Constantinople. Subsequent excavations by archaeologists have turned up a church and eight sunken ships. Archaeologists believe the ships were destroyed by a massive storm more than a thousand years ago.
Tale of a Whale
Site: Road construction in Laguna Canyon, California
Find: New whale species
Discovery date: February 2013
Details: Construction workers uncovered whale fossils that are 17 to 19 million years old. The fossils include 11 whale species, including four species that were previously unknown members of the baleen whale family. Unlike modern-day baleen whales, the newly discovered species had teeth.
Hindu House of Worship
Site: Drainage basin in Bali, Indonesia
Find: Ancient Hindu temple
Discovery date: October 2012
Details: Workers digging a drainage basin found what appeared to be remnants of an ancient building. Bali's archaeology office was notified and then excavated the site. The building is thought to be the foundation of a Hindu temple dating to the 13th to 15th century. The ancient Hindu temple may be the largest ever found in Bali, at 187 feet (57 meters) wide.
This Really Old House
Site: Bridge construction in South Queensferry, Scotland
Find: Stone Age home
Discovery date: November 2012
Details: An oval pit nearly 23 feet (seven meters) wide was found along with more than a thousand flint artifacts, which were probably used for tools and arrowheads. The site is believed to be the remains of a 10,000-year-old home—one of the earliest discovered in Scotland.
Site: Parking lot demolition in Edinburgh, Scotland
Find: Medieval knight
Discovery date: March 2013
Details: The remains of a medieval knight were found along with a sandstone slab bearing the carvings of a cross and a large sword. Researchers believe the remains date to the 13th century. The site is also believed to be the location of the Blackfriars Monastery.
Ice Age Fossils
Site: Retention pond construction in Snowmass Village, Colorado
Find: Ice Age animal bones
Discovery date: October 2010
Details: After construction workers unearthed unusual bones, archaeologists found more than 4,500 bones from Ice Age animals, including mastodons, ground sloths, and mammoths. This fossil-rich area was nicknamed Snowmastodon following the discovery. The finds are now on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Lost Royal Chapel
Site: Demolition in London
Find: Henry VIII's lost chapel
Discovery date: January 2006
Details: After a bulldozer unexpectedly scraped against brickwork while tearing up a parking lot in south London, archaeologists rushed in. They discovered a 500-year-old royal chapel, as well as fragments of stained glass and decorative stonework. Many British monarchs, including Henry VIII, are believed to have worshipped at this chapel, which was originally on the grounds of a palace.
Black Death Burial Ground
Site: Railroad project in London
Find: Skeletons of Black Death victims
Discovery date: March 2013
Details: Crews found a 14th-century burial site for people who had died of the bubonic plague. Archaeologists have unearthed 13 skeletons and believe as many as 50,000 might rest in what they call an emergency burial ground.
Site: Excavation in San Francisco
Find: Mammoth tooth
Discovery date: September 2012
Details: A crane operator found a large woolly mammoth tooth from a Columbian mammoth more than 100 feet below ground. The tooth is estimated to be roughly 11,000 years old. During the Pleistocene epoch, woolly mammoths roamed in what is now the San Francisco area and much of California.