It never occured to me they were using machines for this, but of course they are:
A 4,300-year-old city, which has a massive step pyramid that is at least 230 feet (70 meters) high and spans 59 acres (24 hectares) at its base, has been excavated in China, archaeologists reported in the August issue of the journal Antiquity.
The pyramid was decorated with eye symbols and “anthropomorphic,” or part-human, part-animal faces. Those figures “may have endowed the stepped pyramid with special religious power and further strengthened the general visual impression on its large audience,” the archaeologists wrote in the article. [The 25 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]
For five centuries, a city flourished around the pyramid. At one time, the city encompassed an area of 988 acres (400 hectares), making it one of the largest in the world, the archaeologists wrote. Today, the ruins of the city are called “Shimao,” but its name in ancient times is unknown.
The pyramid contains 11 steps, each of which was lined with stone. On the topmost step, there “were extensive palaces built of rammed earth, with wooden pillars and roofing tiles, a gigantic water reservoir, and domestic remains related to daily life,” the researchers wrote.
Yeah, geek stuff, but I love it. I used to be on the board of my local library, and we had treasures, too (our original collection was purchased for the library by Ben Franklin). Via Atlas Obscura:
Librarians take these kinds of questions very seriously, so when Atlas Obscura contacted some of our favorite libraries to ask about the oldest books in their collections, we were treated to a wealth of information about the treasures they hold.
The New York Public Library, for instance, has not only cuneiform tablets and ninth-century gospels, but also a Gutenberg Bible and a copy of The Bay Psalm Book, one of the oldest books printed in America. In addition to its own cuneiform tablets and Gutenberg Bible, the Library of Congress holds one of the oldest examples of printing in the world, passages from a Buddhist sutra, printed in A.D. 770, as well as a medieval manuscript from 1150, delightfully titled Exposicio Mistica Super Exod.
In the history of writing, bound books as we know them today arrive fairly late, so there are no actual “books” on this list. Instead, this is a wondrous collection of illuminated manuscripts, papyrus scrolls, and clay tablets. Some of these items you can even see in person, if you pay a visit.