A shot of the Dahuting Han Dynasty Tomb with bacteria on the walls

Creepy crawlers

What’s growing on the walls of this ancient tomb? Researchers uncover a thriving ecosystem

Something’s alive down here.

Youzhi Feng

Shutterstock

Most materials — except for plastic, glass, and a few others — will deteriorate over time when exposed to the elements.

That makes preserving ancient relics a persistent challenge for archaeologists.

Microscopic organisms thrive on the remains of past civilizations, slowly reducing them to dust.

Anonymous artists of the Eastern Han period, late 2nd to early 3rd century AD via Wikimedia Commons