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What is the greatest recovered artifact of all time?

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The Death Mask of Tutankhamun

Feb 10, 2015
The Death Mask of Tutankhamun
In 1922, one of archaeology’s most cherished finds occurred in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. When Howard Carter uncovered the entrance to the tomb of King Tutankhamun, known colloquially as King Tut, he had no idea what he would find on the other side. Massive gilded statues, including a piece in the likeness of Anubis, were among the various treasures discovered with the mummified pharaoh. The most startling find of all, however, was on Tutankhamun’s body: an ornate and gilded death mask, formed with a royal beard, an alert stare, and elaborate headdress. Upon its recovery, the mask became an international sensation, spurring the public’s fascination with Egypt and its lavish past. To this day, much of the travel to Egypt’s tombs and pyramids is derived from the findings within the pharaoh’s tombs, including the death mask that has forever immortalized the 19-year-old ruler.

Date of Discovery: 1922 | Approximate Date of Creation: Unknown, likely 14th century BC | Location of Discovery: Valley of the Kings, Egypt | Culture of Origin: Ancient Egyptian

Description: An ornate funerary mask formed with gold, semiprecious stones, and a variety of glass paneling, intended to be used as the mask covering the mummified body.

Historical Significance: Rekindled international interest in Egypt and the Ancient Egyptian rulers, illustrated the death rituals of the culture.
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The Dead Sea Scrolls

Feb 10, 2015
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Much like the Rosetta Stone, these famous scrolls are among archaeology’s greatest legends. Discovered in a series of caves over a decade, they provide some of the first tangible vindication for the Hebrew Bible’s verses, since they contain handwritten text which fits the Hebrew canon and scripture. Some of the scrolls did not provide a direct link to the Hebrew Bible, but instead focused on secular issues, providing anthropologists and archaeologists with more insight into the lifestyle and tactical planning efforts of the Hebrew people. Due to the sensitive location of the discovery and the religious connotations, multiple nations have claimed ownership of the scrolls, including Palestine and Jordan. Currently, the scrolls are housed throughout the world in various museums and exhibits, and continue to exist as living legends for their historical and religious value.

Date of Discovery: Between 1946 and 1956 | Approximate Date of Creation: 4th Century BC | Location of Discovery: Khirbet Qumran, Israel | Culture of Origin: Ancient Hebrew

Description: Over 980 original versions of Hebrew Bible entries, largely written in Hebrew and Aramaic.

Historical Significance: Cemented the validity of contemporary passages, as well as possessing significant religious value.
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The Terracotta Soldiers

Feb 10, 2015
The Terracotta Soldiers
Statues have often been known to guard the mausoleums of many famous rulers, and in some cases, groups of statues stand watch over sacred sites. The Terracotta soldiers discovered in China, however, take the concept to a breathtaking extreme. This model army was found in a collection of pits, and after careful excavation, the scope and craftsmanship of the display finally came to light. Filled with thousands of soldiers, chariots, and horses, the army is believed to be a product of the long-standing Qin Dynasty, constructed to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Interestingly enough, the army’s designers were also careful enough to include some essential non-combat personnel in the ranks, including entertainers and ruling officials. Even more fascinating is the condition of the sharpened weapons found throughout the pits, which are often discovered rust-free due to a coating of chromium dioxide.

Date of Discovery: 1975 | Approximate Date of Creation: 3rd Century BC | Location of Discovery: Shaanxi, China | Culture of Origin: Chinese Qin Dynasty

Description: A massive collection of terracotta warrior statues (including chariots and cavalry) gathered in pits, with sizes varying according to military rank.

Historical Significance: Offered insight into the Qin burial rituals, as well as the technology and craftsmanship of the dynasty.
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The Rosetta Stone

Feb 10, 2015
The Rosetta Stone
Anybody who has attempted to learn a language has probably heard of Rosetta Stone, though the linguistics company’s link to the real stone is only symbolic. The Rosetta Stone, a piece commissioned by King Ptolemy V and recovered in Egypt after a landmark discovery, paved the way to understanding and translating the previously unintelligible Egyptian hieroglyphs. Because the stone contained three juxtaposed languages – hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek – it offered experts the first real opportunity to begin assembling a translation protocol. Much like puzzle pieces, the languages on the slab fit together to create one of the world’s first decryption keys. Today, the Rosetta Stone is housed at the famous British Museum, and seems destined to stay there in spite of Egypt’s requests to claim the artifact.

Date of Discovery: 1799 | Approximate Date of Creation: 196 BC | Location of Discovery: Rashid, Egypt | Culture of Origin: Ancient Egyptian

Description: A granodiorite slab covered in three distinct languages, reportedly commissioned by King Ptolemy V.

Historical Significance: Supplied the first functional method of translating and comprehending Egyptian hieroglyphs.
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The Sutton Hoo Helmet

Feb 10, 2015
The Sutton Hoo Helmet
In pop culture, the Anglo-Saxons are often remembered as the distant cousins of the Scandinavian Vikings. While there were significant differences between the two groups, the emphasis on warfare and post-mortem honoring was a shared fabric between societies. The Sutton Hoo burial ship, named after its location along the River Deben, is an Anglo-Saxon grave site which housed an eclectic mixture of funerary items: spearheads, purses, and expensive textiles, among other things. One of the most memorable and substantial finds, however, was a decorative helmet which resembled Swedish designs. In addition to forging a possible link between the two cultures, the Sutton Hoo helmet also represents a stunning find, since helmets are rarely discovered at Anglo-Saxon burial sites. Today, the helmet has become the de facto “face” of the Anglo-Saxons, and embodies the warrior spirit of Britain’s conquerors.

Date of Discovery: 1939 | Approximate Date of Creation: 7th century AD | Location of Discovery: Suffolk, England | Culture of Origin: Anglo-Saxon

Description: An elaborate and decorative helmet worked in tinned bronze, complete with stylized brows, a set of cheek and neck guards, and flanking panels over the ears.

Historical Significance: Provided a better understanding of Anglo-Saxon warrior culture and burial traditions, made links to similar Swedish customs from the same era.
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The Antikythera Mechanism

Feb 10, 2015
The Antikythera Mechanism
While some artifacts provide a greater sense of clarity regarding ancient cultures, others only create more questions. Such is the case with the infamous Antikythera mechanism, which was recovered by divers off the coast of Greece in 1900. Aside from this puzzling piece of machinery, a variety of statues, coins, and other artifacts were discovered among the wreckage. The Antikythera mechanism, according to the most recent interpretations, was the Ancient Greek model of an analog computer. Its construction suggests a high degree of mathematical and astronomical knowledge on the part of its designers, and its mere existence confirms many scholars’ beliefs in an advanced and well-educated caste of Ancient Greek society. Because of extensive decay and damage, the exact function of the mechanism may never be fully understood by archaeologists. Nevertheless, the world’s most ancient computer commands a certain degree of respect.

Date of Discovery: 1900 or 1901 | Approximate Date of Creation: 205 BC | Location of Discovery: Near Antikythera, Greece | Culture of Origin: Ancient Greek

Description: A clockwork mechanism composed of interlocking bronze cogs, apparently intended to predict astronomical events.

Historical Significance: Demonstrated a profound and advanced understandings of mathematics and astronomy in the Ancient Greek world.
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The Nebra Sky Disk

Feb 10, 2015
The Nebra Sky Disk
While modern perceptions of ancient civilizations may involve some element of barbarism or limited intelligence, recent archaeological finds have suggested that most cultures preserved advanced knowledge in one form or another. The Nebra Sky Disk, originally uncovered in Germany and sold in a black market deal, represents an enormous amount of astronomical knowledge and eclipse observance from its source culture, the Unetice people. Dating procedures were able to conclude that the disk was gradually shaped over time, with additional holes and celestial symbols being added as the Unetice followed the night sky’s patterns. Because of its significance as one of the world’s earliest recorded models of the cosmos, UNESCO eventually added it to the prestigious Memory of the World Register and helped to ensure its exhibition in Halle, Germany.

Date of Discovery: 1999 | Approximate Date of Creation: 1600 BC | Location of Discovery: Nebra, Germany | Culture of Origin: Unetice

Description: A bronze disk measuring nearly a foot in diameter, decorated with inlaid gold and astronomical symbols such as a sun and moon.

Historical Significance: Hinted toward a Bronze Age understanding of astronomy, as well as a connection between eclipses, astronomical monitoring, and religion.
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The Mask of Agamemnon

Feb 10, 2015
The Mask of Agamemnon
Despite the sense of wonder attached to this Mycenaean death mask’s owner, its name is actually a misnomer, since it has been debunked as belonging to the legendary Mycenaean king. Despite this, the gold-forged funerary mask is one of the most intact and significant finds to emerge from Mycenae’s past, since many other traces of the civilization have been destroyed or lost. Through this mask, which was discovered in a burial pit, researchers were able to form a more complete picture of Mycenae’s death rituals. How a culture deals with its deceased members, of course, is one of the most important details in historical anthropology. In spite of its misleading title, the mask is among the most valuable artifacts from Agamemnon’s people.

Date of Discovery: 1876 | Approximate Date of Creation: Between 1550 and 1500 BC | Location of Discovery: Mycenae, Greece | Culture of Origin: Unknown, likely Mycenean

Description: A gold funeral mask existing as one piece of a five-part set, rumored to have crafted for the legendary Greek hero Agamemnon.

Historical Significance: Although the mask predates Agamemnon or his mention in Greek stories, the mask offers a fascinating look at the customs and artwork of Mycenae.
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The Phaistos Disc

Feb 10, 2015
The Phaistos Disc
When an object comes attached with a long-standing debate about its authenticity, there’s something worth investigating. The Phaistos Disc, discovered in a Minoan palace after thousands of years of neglect, is one of archaeology’s more troublesome mysteries. Its clay surface is adorned with dozens of symbols, none of which have ever been truly decoded by experts and researchers, and its purpose is equally unclear. Several of its designs have been translated into other hieroglyphs from surrounding civilizations, but none of the symbols have ever been combined in a comprehensive manner, and more interpretations of the disc continue to emerge as time goes on. Regardless of what the Phaistos Disc is or was intended to be, its meaning may very well have been buried with the ruins of the Minoans themselves.

Date of Discovery: 1908 | Approximate Date of Creation: 2nd millennium BC | Location of Discovery: Phaistos, Crete | Culture of Origin: Ancient Minoan

Description: A disk formed from fired claying and stamped with a variety of symbols and insignias, but lacking clarity regarding its intended use.

Historical Significance: Sparked a large debate and speculation regarding the disc's use or symbolism, which still continues to this day.
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The Folkton Drums

Feb 10, 2015
The Folkton Drums
Despite their name, the Folkton Drums are not drums in the practical or literal sense. Instead, they’re chalk recreations of the instrument, carved during the Neolithic period and intended to be used as toys or models for a child. Many artifacts are known for their luxurious nature or demonstration of wealth, but others are more subtle, and convey deep meaning about the nature and lifestyle of a people. These chalk carvings are covered in images of faces and various designs, and were found in the graves of a presumably noble child, since there have been no other finds of a similar type or value in northern England. While these tiny drums may not be gilded blades or the armor of a warlord, they are an expression of innocence and creativity in a long-lost era.

Date of Discovery: 1889 | Approximate Date of Creation: Between 2600 and 2100 BC | Location of Discovery: Folkton, England | Culture of Origin: Neolithic Britons

Description: A set of intricately-carved model drums created using chalk, found within a child's grave.

Historical Significance: Helped to create a more rounded perception of settlers from this era, demonstrated the importance of music or leisure in everyday life.
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The Hagby Runestones

Feb 10, 2015
The Hagby Runestones
The Vikings are typically associated with beards, heavy drinking, and longships, but an important aspect of their society was ritual mourning. Throughout Europe, one can visit carved runestones, which were erected to honor the memory of fallen kin or comrades. In fact, runestones were so vital to their society that a profession solely devoted to carving the slabs existed. In Uppland, Sweden, four runestones – termed the Hagby Runestones – honor the memory of fallen Norsemen, including several warriors of the foreign mercenaries known as the Varangian Guard. In addition to demonstrating more of the Viking death rituals, the runestones also represent a significant source of information about the Varangian guardsmen, who are often described in literature stemming from their “working place” in Constantinople. While the bodies of the Norsemen may no longer be intact, these stones are sure to remain through the ages.

Date of Discovery: 1930 | Approximate Date of Creation: 11th century AD | Location of Discovery: Uppland, Sweden | Culture of Origin: Norse

Description: Four runestones carved in memory of lost warriors or family members, with three of the stones honoring Varangian warriors.

Historical Significance: Aided researchers in understanding the nature of runestones and the spread of Norse settlers, shed light on Varangian warriors.

GOAT Staff Score - Recovered Artifact

The candidates have been assigned a raw score across a range of criteria. The raw scores have been weighted to reflect the impact that each individual criterion has on the 'Final GOAT Score'. Only weighted scores are displayed in this table. -->TURN DEVICE SIDEWAYS TO VIEW ON MOBILE-->
 Historical Signif. (30%)Uniqueness (20%)Anthro. Impact (20%)Craftsmanship (20%)Popularity (10%)Raw ScoreFinal GOAT Score
The Death Mask of Tut…1057111144870
The Dead Sea Scrolls117941041830
The Terracotta Soldiers611610841800
The Rosetta Stone9956938760
The Sutton Hoo Helmet83118737750
The Antikythera Mech…51019530600
The Nebra Sky Disk48102428560
The Mask of Agamemnon 7431621430
The Phaistos Disc2627320390
The Hagby Runestones3183217350
The Folkton Drums1245113260

GOAT Verdict:

King Tut's Mask is the Greatest Recovered Artifact of All Time
It’s impossible to have a discussion about archaeology without bringing up the legacy of King Tut’s tomb. While the discovery produced a wealth of new information about Egypt’s ancient past and provided a staggering amount of treasures for museum displays, the most memorable and iconic image to emerge from Carter’s expedition was the Death Mask of Tutankhamun. The mask succeeded in carrying on the ostentatious appearance of the pyramids, while also commanding respect with its powerful gaze and royal decorations. This death mask is the epitome of tomb findings, and has inspired tourists, historians, and archaeologists for decades, calling the masses to the sands of Egypt and beyond to find the next great artifact. Although King Tutankhamun died before his 20th birthday, his legacy endures in the form of ever-curious researchers and his worldly possessions, including this spectacular funerary mask. The mask was able to evoke a sense of royalty and power at the time of its creation as well as exhibition, and because of this, it’s undoubtedly the greatest recovered artifact of all time.

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What is the greatest war memorial of all time?

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USS Arizona Memorial

Jan 29, 2015
USS Arizona Memorial
Most memorials are either located away from their original battlegrounds, or have been cleaned of any trace of a battle occurring. Hawaii’s USS Arizona Memorial, however, has made its name from the powerful and striking decision to leave the titular battleship’s remains just beneath the water’s surface. Visitors to the above-ground compound, which serves as a place of remembrance for those lost in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks, are able to look down into Hawaii’s crystal-clear waters and witness a piece of living history. The memorial does not make physical contact with the Arizona’s wreckage, but the sunken battleship serves as the focus point for the building and its observation areas. Although Pearl Harbor has fully recovered from the strike and holds the same beauty as other Hawaiian destinations, the USS Arizona Memorial is a poignant reminder of losses in war.

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA | Faction(s) Memorialized: USS Arizona sailors | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Attack on Pearl Harbor | Date of Unveiling: May 30, 1962

Description: An expansive white structure sitting over the remains of the USS Arizona, fixed over the vessel but not in direct contact | Designer(s): Alfred Preis | Date of Conflict(s): December 7, 1941 | Total Height/Area: 42,492 meters sq.
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Löwendenkmal

Jan 29, 2015
Löwendenkmal
Known more commonly as The Lion Monument, this Swiss carving is one of the most ingenious and tragic memorials ever created. Dedicated to the Swiss Guards killed in the assault on the Tuileries Palace during the French Revolution, the piece was designed to evoke heartbreak and a sense of pain. Its titular lion lies sprawled out in its alcove, fatally wounded by a spear and preparing to die. Above the lion is an inscription dedicated to the loyalty, bravery, and memory of the guardsmen killed during the assault. A stagnant pool of water sits beneath the lion, contrasting sharply with the wounded animal and promoting an atmosphere of serenity and reflection. Mark Twain, in fact, once visited the Swiss memorial and found himself moved by its mournful presentation, later writing extensively about the site and its tranquility.

Location: Lucerne, Switzerland | Faction(s) Memorialized: Swiss guardsmen | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The French Revolution | Date of Unveiling: 1821

Description: A wounded lion, carved from a rock face and designed to evoke sorrow, sitting in an alcove and flanked by an inscription as well as a calm pool of water | Designer(s): Bertel Thorvaldsen | Date of Conflict(s): 1789–1799 | Total Height/Area: 60 meters sq.
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Arc de Triomphe

Jan 29, 2015
Arc de Triomphe
Those who visit Paris are often quick to seek out The Louvre, the various palaces, and the Arc de Trimophe, but many people are unaware of the symbolism behind the latter. Built to commemorate the French losses in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, the arch is richly detailed with images, quotes, and the flawless masonry of France’s best builders. Its grandiose nature does not fully reflect the same sense of sorrow that other monuments hold, but this is one of the arch’s defining traits. Rather than only mourning France’s losses, the Arc de Triomphe serves as an embodiment of victory, national pride, and cultural merit. Indeed, those who visit Paris are often overwhelmed by the arch’s size and stonework, which only serves to accomplish one of the arch’s many aims.

Location: Paris, France | Faction(s) Memorialized: French soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars | Date of Unveiling: July 29, 1836

Description: An enormous stone arch inscribed with images of French adolescents, Germanic warriors, and multiple scenes correlating with historic events in France | Designer(s): Jean Chalgrin | Date of Conflict(s): April 20, 1792 – March 25, 1802 and May 18, 1803 – November 20, 1815 | Total Height/Area: 50 meters
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The Motherland Calls

Jan 29, 2015
The Motherland Calls
After the enormous casualties suffered by both German and Russian troops during the Battle of Stalingrad, the question of a memorial loomed over the Soviet Union and its leaders. Constructing something of adequate size, prominence, and symbolism would prove to be difficult, but not impossible. Years after the horrific fighting, the Soviets unveiled a striking statue depicting the metaphorical leader of the Motherland, her sword outstretched and ready to lead the people into the trials of the coming years. The statue is a towering example of Soviet architecture and knowledge of structural integrity, and despite the best efforts of the Soviet builders and designers, the structure has started to suffer from a pronounced lean in recent times. This Volograd monument is frequented by Russians as well as travelers of all nationalities, and succeeds in capturing the essence of a determined nation.

Location: Mamayev Kurgan, Volograd, Russia | Faction(s) Memorialized: Soviet soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The Battle of Stalingrad | Date of Unveiling: October 15, 1967

Description: A massive concrete facsimile of a woman holding a sword, embodying the spirit and endurance of The Motherland | Designer(s): Yevgeny Vuchetich, Nikolai Nikitin | Date of Conflict(s): August 23, 1942 – February 2, 1943 | Total Height/Area: 87 meters
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Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Jan 29, 2015
Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme
When approaching the Thiepval Memorial, it’s difficult to avoid being struck by a sense of awe and somber reflection. The structure itself is a collection of arches, eventually supporting one towering arch at its center, but its most memorable feature is the collection of unmarked tombstones extending out beyond its front steps. The memorial is dedicated to those who fought in World War I’s Battle of the Somme, and specifically honors those who were never located. Considering the bloody and mud-drenched nature of the battle, such a monument was almost mandatory to recognize the massive amount of unidentified and lost soldiers. In modern times, visitors are almost always silent with reverence for the site, and pay their respects to those who – in other circumstances – would not have received any commemoration.

Location: Thiepval, France | Faction(s) Memorialized: British and South African soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Somme Offensive | Date of Unveiling: August 1, 1932

Description: A series of interlocking arches joined by a larger, dominant arch over the entirety of the structure, surrounded by unadorned tombstones | Designer(s): Edwin Lutyens | Date of Conflict(s): July 1 - November 18, 1916 | Total Height/Area: 43 meters
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Marine Corps War Memorial

Jan 29, 2015
Marine Corps War Memorial
Unlike many similar memorials, the monument constructed for the United States Marine Corps does not commemorate a specific battle or war. Instead, the memorial seeks to honor all those who have served in the Marine Corps since its founding in 1775, and its breathtaking composition succeeds in showing the Corps’ unfailing spirit. The memorial itself is modeled after the famous picture taken at Iwo Jima, which portrays a group of Marines raising an American flag over the island. The memorial was lovingly recreated using large statues and a solid base, and because of its powerful and symbolic image, it has become one of the most celebrated and visited monuments in America. Its late construction may come as a surprise, considering the long legacy of the Marine Corps, but the memorial’s use of an everlasting reference image will always perfectly represent the Corps.

Location: Arlington, VA, USA | Faction(s) Memorialized: United States Marines | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Multiple, includes any conflict utilizing Marine Corps deployment | Date of Unveiling: November 10, 1954

Description: Six bronze statues raising an enormous flag, designed to evoke the famous photograph taken after the Marine landing at Iwo Jima | Designer(s): Horace W. Pealee, Felix de Weldon | Date of Conflict(s): N/A | Total Height/Area: 23.7 meters
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Saint Julien Memorial

Jan 29, 2015
Saint Julien Memorial
Despite the memorial’s dedication to the troops of Canada’s First Division during the Second Battle of Ypres (in World War I), this monument is located far from the birthplace of the First Division personnel. Tucked away in a quiet Belgian village, the memorial is renowned for its expressive and crestfallen soldier, peering down from atop the stone block like a silent guardian. Its placement, in truth, is derived from the committee elected to grant the Canadian government a specific number of international memorial sites, including in Canada, France, and Belgium. This monument was one of many dedicated to the carnage and loss of the war, joining sites such as Passchendaele. The Second Battle of Ypres also marked the first widespread use of poison gas in the war, which lends an even more sobering feel to the memorial. Even today, a century after the war’s outbreak, the Saint Julien Memorial remains an oft-visited and poignant site.

Location: Saint-Julien, Langemark/Sint-Juliaan, Belgium | Faction(s) Memorialized: Canadian First Division soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Second Battle of Ypres | Date of Unveiling: July 8, 1923

Description: A towering rock slab with the upper half of a Canadian soldier ("The Brooding Soldier") emerging from the piece's upper tier | Designer(s): Frederick Chapman Clemesha | Date of Conflict(s): April 21 – May 25, 1915 | Total Height/Area: 11 meters
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Korean War Veterans Memorial

Jan 29, 2015
Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Korean War was defined by its occurrence in a still-fragile post-war world and its role as a catalyst for future hostilities, but very few textbooks or political treatises can adequately summarize the war for those who experienced it. Horrendous fighting conditions and an uneasy, uncertain battlefield were only a few of the many terrors plaguing in the conflict. In a bid to depict the solemn and freezing atmosphere of Korea’s battlegrounds, the designers of Washington D.C.’s Korean War Veterans Memorial created statues of soldiers wearing parkas and carrying rifles, each representing a particular branch of the military. The surrounding walls to the memorial are high and reflective, and a decorative walkway weaves between the soldiers to allow visitors a complete view of the statues. The Korean War may have been obscured in contemporary history between World War II and Vietnam, but those who visit this memorial will be inspired to read more about the haggard men on its pathways.

Location: Washington D.C., USA | Faction(s) Memorialized: American soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The Korean War | Date of Unveiling: July 27, 1995

Description: Tall, black walls form a triangular perimeter to the memorial, while large steel statues in the form of U.S. soldiers decorate the memorial's interior grounds | Designer(s): Cooper-Lecky Architects, Frank Gaylord | Date of Conflict(s): June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953 | Total Height/Area: 8903 meters sq.
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Royal Artillery Memorial

Jan 29, 2015
Royal Artillery Memorial
Throughout London, there are a number of well-known and acclaimed sites dedicated to a rich national history. One of these sites, however, remains as awe-inducing as its first unveiling, and makes a dramatic statement with both its aesthetic presentation and backstory. The Royal Artillery Memorial, adorned with multiple statues of artillerymen and a Howitzer gun atop its tiered structure, was commissioned to honor the Royal Artillery Regiment during World War I. A slight patina of vines and overgrowth has started to creep over the memorial, but it only adds to the timeless nature of the structure, and draws more attention from passersby. The memorial’s focal point – its cannon recreation – was specifically chosen to evoke a sense of power and finality in combat. Although the structure commemorates those lost in the war, it also honors the soldiers for their efficient and brave performances as artillerymen in the nation’s service.

Location: London, England | Faction(s) Memorialized: Royal Regiment of Artillery | Conflict(s) Memorialized: World War I | Date of Unveiling: 1925

Description: A multi-tiered structure decorated with statues of English artillerymen, rock inscriptions, and a crowning carving of a Howitzer artillery piece | Designer(s): Charles Sargeant Jagger, Lionel Pearson | Date of Conflict(s): July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918 | Total Height/Area: 9 meters
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Tannenberg Memorial

Jan 29, 2015
Tannenberg Memorial
This memorial, despite its ambitious design and cultural relevance during World War II, is only an overgrown shadow of its former self. In some ways, however, the memorial speaks to a changing cultural and political climate more than shifting borders. The original compound was a sprawling, castle-like design with soaring towers, dedicated to the German soldiers at the Second Battle of Tannenberg during World War I, and Nazi officials were known to have visited the site on multiple occasions. After the war, however, it was looted of minor treasures and dismantled in several rounds, led by the Polish government after its separation from Nazi Germany. Stones from the original monument were subsequently used to construct new monuments, buildings, and memorials throughout Poland. Although modern-day visitors may not see Tannenberg in its former glory, its symbolic rise and decline are a striking sight for history lover.

Location: Olsztynek, Poland | Faction(s) Memorialized: German soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Second Battle of Tannenberg | Date of Unveiling: 1924-1927

Description: A now-overgrown and demolished memorial consisting of eight towers and a central courtyard, designed to evoke Teutonic Knight architecture | Designer(s): Johannes Krüger, Walter Krüger | Date of Conflict(s): August 26-30, 1914 | Total Height/Area: 20 meters (tower height)
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Tugu Negara

Jan 29, 2015
Tugu Negara
During World War II, a large amount of atrocities were committed by Hirohito’s Imperial Japanese troops, including extensive campaigns of eugenics research and forced labor throughout Southeast Asia and China. Many countries were too devastated to organize resistance operations, and the few who did – including Malaysia, the site of the Tugu Negara (National Monument) – were met with extreme resistance. This Malaysian memorial commemorates the native soldiers who fought in both the Japanese occupation and the country’s post-war conflict, termed the Malaysian Emergency. It is modeled heavily after the United States Marine Corps Memorial, and enlisted the same designer to produce a stunning finished project. Tugu Negara boasts an impressive set of bronze statues, cast with fearsome poses and expressions, and draws tourists from all corners of the globe. After surviving a bomb blast and subsequently undergoing renovations in the 1960s, it also proved itself to be one of the world’s most enduring memorials.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Faction(s) Memorialized: Malaysian soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: World War II, the Malaysian Emergency | Date of Unveiling: February 8, 1966

Description: Intentionally modeled after the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, composed of a group of Malaysian soldier statues (formed from bronze) and the Malaysian coat of arms | Designer(s): Felix de Weldon | Date of Conflict(s): September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945, and June 16, 1948 – July 12, 1960 | Total Height/Area: 15 meters

GOAT Staff Score - War Memorial

The candidates have been assigned a raw score across a range of criteria. The raw scores have been weighted to reflect the impact that each individual criterion has on the 'Final GOAT Score'. Only weighted scores are displayed in this table. -->TURN DEVICE SIDEWAYS TO VIEW ON MOBILE-->
 Emotional Resonance (30%)Architectural Achievement (20%)Aesthetics (20%)Uniqueness (15%)Popularity (15%)Raw ScoreFinal GOAT Score
USS Arizona Memorial1091010948965
Loewendenkmal1110911243905
Arc de Triomphe3111151141770
The Motherland Calls68781039750
Thiepval Memorial …9659332670
Marine Corps War Memorial7386832640
Saint Julien Memorial8563527580
Korean War … Memorial5237724460
Royal Artillery Memorial4442620400
Tannenberg Memorial1714114265
Tugu Negara2121410195

GOAT Verdict:

The USS Arizona Memorial is the Greatest War Memorial of All Time
Standing over the sunken remains of the USS Arizona is enough to jar the thoughts of any visitor. The sheer scope and stark presentation of the ship lends itself to a visceral experience, and reminds tourists and locals alike that even the most beautiful locales can be touched by war. Those who walk along the interior of the memorial’s white surface structure, which can only be reached by boat, will be quick to notice the enormity and destruction of the sight below them. Rather than asking visitors to remember a conflict that has been erased from view, it presents warfare in a raw and heartbreaking state, and leaves it unadorned for viewers to draw their own conclusions and reflect in their own way. Visitors can pay their respects by dropping flowers down into the water, and can read the memorial’s marble wall, which lists the names of those who perished during the attack. The USS Arizona Memorial seeks to teach future generations about the cost of war with direct exposure and reflection, and because of this, it’s also the greatest war memorial of all time.

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What is the greatest military blunder of all time?

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Operation Barbarossa

Jan 08, 2015
Operation Barbarossa

Anybody who has taken an introductory course in history knows that conquerors would do well to avoid Russia. With unforgiving weather, punishing winters, and enormous amounts of manpower, Russia is the ultimate hurdle for invading forces. This fact, however, was ignored when Adolf Hitler broke his own pact and initiated Operation Barbarossa (which was opposed by his staff). A massive force of infantry, armored units, and aircraft descended on the Soviet Union’s territory, but as the operation slid into winter and beyond, it became clear that the Nazis were not prepared for a protracted invasion, and their troops were not ready for the extreme conditions of the front. Operation Barbarossa would later result in the organized retreat of German forces from Russia, and would live on in the immortal mistake of provoking the Soviet Union.

Date: 1941 | Location: Western Soviet territory | Overarching Conflict: World War Two | Factions Involved: Nazi Germany and its satellite countries against the Soviet Union | Troop Numbers: 3.8 million German soldiers, 5.5 million Russian soldiers

Critical Error: Lack of long-term strategy and troop sustainability efforts | Casualties: 800,000+ German losses, 4+ million Russian losses | Result: German seizure of significant portions of Russia, but overall failure to claim Leningrand and other tactical landmarks.

2

The Battle of the Somme

Jan 08, 2015
The Battle of the Somme

World War One is often cited as one of the bloodiest wars in human history, and The Battle of the Somme does not conflict with this image. In the early stages of the war, British and French troops attempted to push back against German forces at the Somme river, where both factions were able to set up entrenched positions and employ the mechanized tank in its earliest form. Many of the troops, particularly on the British side, had not received enough training to be in frontline combat, and were confused or disoriented when forced to restructure themselves in the middle of the fighting. Conditions were horrid, progress was minimal, and the casualty rates only increased as the months slipped past. The British command was far from prepared to take action, but urging from their French allies ultimately thrust them into the fighting, which resulted in disastrous disorganization and outdated military tactics.

Date: 1916 | Location: Somme River, Pas-de-Calais, France | Overarching Conflict: World War One | Factions Involved: British Empire (Britain, Australia, India, Canada, New Zealand) and France against the German Empire | Troop Numbers: (At battle's height) 51 British, 48 French divisions, 50 German divisions

Critical Error: Failure to train soldiers properly, especially regarding the breakdown of command | Casualties: 623,907 British and French losses, between  237,000 and 500,000 German losses | Result: 6 miles of territorial gains for British and French troops

3

Operation Market Garden

Jan 08, 2015
Operation Market Garden
Landing several thousand paratroopers behind enemy lines, setting up a narrow supply line that stretches an impossible distance, and expecting the aforementioned paratroopers to endure repeated attacks from an entrenched army is no longer part of military doctrine, fortunately. But for the planners of Operation Market Garden – 1944’s autumn push to end World War Two before Christmas – the plan was somewhat viable. Indeed, it seemed effective enough on paper, and it was plausible enough to recruit the local resistance fighters in the Netherlands. The true missteps of the plan arose when the paratroopers were unable to establish a true frontline, and the concept of maintaining and extending a straight-shot to German territory became increasingly unlikely. After heavy losses and operational breakdown, the Allied high command recognized Market Garden as a failure, and was forced to extract its paratroopers in late September.
Date: 1944 | Location: Germany and the Netherlands | Overarching Conflict: World War Two | Factions Involved: Britain, America, Canada, Poland, and Dutch resistance fighters against Nazi Germany | Troop Numbers: 41,628 Allied soldiers, unknown German troops
Critical Error: Relying on an insubstantial breach of Axis lines to form a frontline | Casualties: 15,000 to 17,000 Allied losses, 3,300 to 13,000 German losses | Result: Allied failure to secure the Rhine and forge a route to Germany
4

The Bay of Pigs Invasion

Jan 08, 2015
The Bay of Pigs Invasion

At the height of the Cold War, the relationship between Cuba and the United States was more frayed and uneasy than ever. The CIA proposed a military invasion to President Kennedy, and after being green-lit, the Intelligence Agency devised a plan relying on American aerial support and combat training for Cuban exiles. After an initial bombing run on Cuban airfields, the US-trained militants traveled from Guatemala to their landing site in Cuba, where they found initial success but were soon defeated. Most of the captured exiles were interrogated and then returned to the United States. The CIA blamed this failure on overextension of supplies, failure to ensure aid from Cuban resistance fighters, insufficient secondary planning, and a host of other problems. Prime Minister Fidel Castro struck back by forming stronger ties with the Soviet Union, which would later result in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Date: 1961 | Location: Bay of Pigs, Cuba | Overarching Conflict: Cold War | Factions Involved: Cuba against America | Troop Numbers: 1,500 CIA-backed forces against 234,000 Cuban soldiers, militia, and police

Critical Error: CIA failure to provide munitions, logistical aid, and tactical support to ground forces | Casualties: 4,176 Cuban forces killed, 118 CIA-backed forces killed (1,202 captured) | Result: Further disintegration of Cuban-American relations and increases in Cold War tension

5

The Winter War

Jan 08, 2015
The Winter War

Although Russia may seem like the toughest hurdle for invading forces, there are other places that even Russia cannot conquer. Finland, which was invaded by the Soviet Union in the early stages of World War Two, proved to be the ultimate gauntlet for both the attackers and defenders. The snowy fields, forests, and hills of Finland were often protected by marksmen wearing white smocks, including the famed Simo Häyhä, who carries the highest recorded number of marksman kills in modern war. The resistance fighters and soldiers of Finland knew their terrain well, and were able to inflict massive casualties on Russian forces in spite of Soviet bombing and artillery blanketing. The Winter War ended with a treaty ceding portions of Finland to Russia, but the unmitigated losses and extreme effort of the war plagued Soviet tacticians for years.

Date: 1939 to 1940 | Location: Finland | Overarching Conflict: Soviet-Finnish Conflict | Factions Involved: Finland and Swedish volunteers against the Soviet Union | Troop Numbers: 250,000 to 340,000 Finnish soldiers against 998,100 Russian soldiers

Critical Error: Inadequate understanding of Finnish terrain and weather conditions | Casualties: 25,904 Finnish soldiers killed, 126,875 Russian soldiers killed | Result: Ceding of some Finnish territory to the Soviet Union, reforms for Soviet military tactics

6

The Battle of Tours

Jan 08, 2015
The Battle of Tours

It had seemed nearly impossible for the Europeans to hold off the Islamic advance into Europe, but all it took was one decisive conflict to turn the tables of war. Charles Martel, a prominent Frankish commander, led his forces against the Umayyad Caliphate in the land between Tours and Poitiers, France, and was graced with some very peculiar advantages. The rumors throughout the Umayyad forces led to deep fears of Frankish raids, especially on the treasure hordes kept in the Umayyad camps. During the battle itself, multiple Umayyad divisions were either separated from the main host or broke away, leading to a domino effect of perceived surrender and retreats from the battlefield. Had the Umayyad commander analyzed the Frankish maneuvers, and moved his own forces accordingly, a blunder might have been avoided.

Date: 732 | Location: Tours and Poitiers, France | Overarching Conflict: Islamic Invasion of Gaul | Factions Involved: Merovingian Franks against the Umayyad Caliphate | Troop Numbers: 15,000 to 80,000 Frankish soldiers against 20,000 to 80,000 Umayyad soldiers

Critical Error: Umayyad failure to prevent withdrawal and retreat to the base camp | Casualties: 1,100 Frankish soldiers killed, 12,000 Umayyad soldiers killed | Result: Complete withdrawal of Umayyad forces from France

7

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest

Jan 08, 2015
The Battle of Teutoburg Forest

This battle should almost be labeled an ambush, if only to highlight the utter disarray and chaos of the engagement. With Roman troops operating in Germanic territory, a Roman-born man of Germanic origin named Arminius forged a secret alliance with the native populations and orchestrated an ambush within the forests of Teutoburg. Arminius advised Varus, the Roman commander, to take the legions XVII, XVIII/XIIX, and XIX/XVIIII through the forested hills of Lower Saxony. While marching, the Romans were ambushed by massive numbers of tribes – including the Cherusci and Chatti – who decimated their forces and forced them into a protracted retreat, where further ambushes waited within the woods. Varus committed suicide as a result of the overwhelming defeat, and the Emperor Augustus, upon hearing of the disappearance of the legionnaires, was noted to have struck his head against a palatial wall and cry for the return of his legions.

Date: 9 (AD) | Location: Lower Saxony, Germany | Overarching Conflict: Roman-Germanic Wars | Factions Involved: Germanic tribes against the Roman Empire | Troop Numbers: 12,000 to 32,000 Germanic soldiers against 20,000 to 36,000 Roman soldiers

Critical Error: Continuing to March into the ambushes constructed by Germanic troops and Arminius | Casualties: Unknown Germanic losses, 16,000 to 20,000 Roman losses | Result: Largest catastrophe in Roman military history, loss of three entire legions

8

The Battle of Flodden Field

Jan 08, 2015
The Battle of Flodden Field

Since holding the high ground is considered a prime advantage in combat, holding the marshy low ground is, naturally, a crippling disadvantage. When the English forces made their final maneuvers and ended up in the mires, it seemed like a natural victory for the Scots, who also had superior forces and the presence of their king. Against all reason, however, the Scots sallied forth from their position and engaged the English in the marshes, which led to a swift reversal of morale and combat effectiveness. While the battle was descending into chaos, the Scottish king James IV was killed, further worsening the situation for the Scots and triggering a quick end to the conflict. In the aftermath of the battle, it was discovered that dozens of Scottish earls and clergymen had perished in the fighting.

Date: 1513 | Location: Northumberland, England | Overarching Conflict: War of the League of Cambrai | Factions Involved: Kingdom of England against Kingdom of Scotland | Troop Numbers: 26,000 English soldiers against 30,000 to 34,000 Scottish soldiers

Critical Error: Scottish troop maneuvering into marshy ground | Casualties: 1,500 English soldiers killed, 5,000 to 17,000 Scottish soldiers killed | Result: Death of the King of Scotland

9

Pickett's Charge

Jan 08, 2015
Pickett's Charge

A single mistake in a battle can have dire repercussions, as evidenced by the three-division charge orchestrated by Robert E. Lee during the Battle of Gettysburg. Although the charge was named after George Pickett, two other Confederate generals were involved in leading the maneuver. After an initial round of cannon fire, which Lee hoped would be effective in dismantling the Union lines, the three divisions advanced and were torn apart by waiting (and relatively unaffected) troops, who were able to concentrate their musket and artillery fire on the oncoming Confederates. The loss of these troops had a significant and demoralizing impact on the Confederate forces, which were later defeated in the battle. In later years, George Pickett said hardly anything about the failure of the assault, but his after-action report was damning enough to be ordered for burned by Robert E. Lee.

Date: 1863 | Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania | Overarching Conflict: American Civil War | Factions Involved: The Confederacy against the Union | Troop Numbers: 12,500 Confederate soldiers against unknown numbers of Union soldiers

Critical Error: Marching directly into Union lanes of fire, ignoring cannon and musket lines | Casualties: Loss of half of the charge's Confederate soldiers | Result: Crippled Confederacy morale and significant setbacks at Gettysburg

10

The Great Siege of Gibraltar

Jan 08, 2015
The Great Siege of Gibraltar

In situations where there are massive amounts of troops, coordinating battle groups is often more difficult than planning the actual strategy. This was the case at the Great Siege of Gibraltar, where the overwhelming force of the Spanish and French troops was unable to break the British defenses near the coast. Sorties – small, swift raids – made by the British against the Spanish were able to cripple many of their offensive actions, and simply aligning the extraordinary number of naval vessels in the Spanish fleet was next to impossible. The more vessels that were brought to bear, the more targets the British had with their rows of cannons and artillery emplacements. After the Great Siege, the Spanish never attempted to retake Gibraltar with naval vessels or infantry, and were also unsuccessful in diplomatic reclaiming attempts.

Date: 1779-1783 | Location: Gibraltar | Overarching Conflict: American Revolutionary War | Factions Involved: Britain against Spain and France | Troop Numbers: (At battle's height) 7,500 British soldiers against 63,000 Spanish and French soldiers, sailors, and marines

Critical Error: Loss of Spanish vessels during the famed "Grand Assault" | Casualties: 333 British soldiers killed, 6,000 Spanish and French soldiers killed | Result: Cessation of Spanish efforts to retake Gibraltar through force

11

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Jan 08, 2015
The Charge of the Light Brigade

War poetry can be some of the most remembered material in literature, so it’s no surprise that the Charge of the Light Brigade has been well-remembered by the public and academics alike. Poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson’s masterpiece, which immortalized the light cavalry’s ill-fated charge against the Russian lines at the Battle of Balaclava, managed to capture the heroism and intensity of the riders, while also leveling severe criticism at the commanders who ordered the charge. In fact, the maneuver was a mistake from its inception, since the site of the assault was incorrectly relayed to the commander of the cavalry brigade. Because of an error in command, the light brigade assaulted a Russian line that easily destroyed their forces and wiped out significant numbers of the light brigade’s ranks.

Date: 1854 | Location: Balaclava, Crimea | Overarching Conflict: The Crimean War | Factions Involved: The United Kingdom and France against the Russian Empire | Troop Numbers: 670 British light cavalry against unknown numbers of Russian soldiers

Critical Error: Accidentally sending the brigade against a fully-manned and front-facing firing line | Casualties: 110 British cavalrymen killed, unknown Russian losses | Result: Extreme loss of light brigade personnel, lessened respect and trust in leadership

12

The Battle of Hattin

Jan 08, 2015
The Battle of Hattin

If there was ever any doubt that water is tantamount to gold in warfare, The Battle of Hattin should reaffirm the notion. In 1187, just before the Third Crusade for Jerusalem and the Holy Land, the Crusader forces were locked in combat with the Ayyubid Dynasty. These engagements came to a head when Saladin and his commanders managed to separate the Crusaders from their water source, leading to dehydration in such a scorching environment. Driven by extreme thirst and desperation, the Crusaders threw themselves at Saladin’s lines, only to be beaten back and pried apart during the course of the battle. After being captured, Saladin spared the top tier of commanders and executed the bulk of the fighting men, which effectively ended the crusading army’s existence. Saladin’s later acts of humiliation, such as sending an upside-down cross to Damascus, incensed the Christian forces enough to launch the Third Crusade.

Date: 1187 | Location: Modern-day Israel | Overarching Conflict: The Third Crusade | Factions Involved: Jerusalem, Antioch, the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitalier, and the Order of Saint Lazarus against the Ayyubid Dynasty | Troop Numbers: 20,000 Crusader soldiers against 30,000 Ayyubid soldiers

Critical Error: Inability to secure a water source, which caused desperation and the collapse of order | Casualties: Unknown, but with far greater losses for Crusader forces | Result: Dissolution of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Saladin's rampant conquest of Crusader cities


GOAT Staff Score - Military Blunders

The candidates have been assigned a raw score across a range of criteria. The raw scores have been weighted to reflect the impact that each individual criterion has on the 'Final GOAT Score'. Only weighted scores are displayed in this table. -->TURN DEVICE SIDEWAYS TO VIEW ON MOBILE-->
 Operation Scale (35%)Failure of Command (20%)Resulting Damage (20%)Historical Significance (15%)Public Remembrance (10%)Raw ScoreFinal GOAT Score
Operation Barbarossa 1210121211571150
The Battle of the Somme119310841855
Operation Market Garden9829937740
The Bay of Pigs Invasion3101171041730
The Winter War10548532700
The Battle of Tours54911635660
The Battle of Teutoburg Forest7782226595
The Battle of Flodden Field63105428585
Pickett’s Charge21174731560
The Great Siege of Gibraltar 8651121525
The Charge of the Light Brigade112131229460
The Battle of Hattin4166320400

GOAT Verdict:

Operation_Barbarossa_GOAT
Provoking a larger and better weaponized opponent defies the logic of war, but German command showed no regard for sensible action or the honoring of treaties when they launched Operation Barbarossa against Stalin’s Russia. Within months of the assault, Soviet forces were able to marshal and push back against the German lines, which had not gained enough ground to make the assault worthwhile. After losing their strongholds throughout Soviet territory, the Germans initiated a long and bloody campaign of scorched earth and withdrawal, losing untold numbers of troops to the extreme cold and fury of the Red Army. Years after beginning the operation, the last stronghold of Nazi Germany – the city of Berlin – fell to Allied troops, who were spearheaded by the westward-moving Red Army. With proper attention given to the weather, the fuel needs of mechanized divisions, and contingency plans for delayed action, the German army may have stood a chance on Soviet soil. But because these things were ignored, Operation Barbarossa lives in history as the greatest military blunder of all time.

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