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Entries in Treasure (3)

Thursday
Oct182012

First-Time Treasure Hunter Discovers Trove of Roman-Era Gold Coins

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(LONDON) -- Armed with a basic metal detector, a first-time treasure hunter in Britain reportedly has uncovered a trove of Roman-era gold coins that experts believe represents one of the largest such finds in England’s history.

The cache of coins -- Roman solidi dating back to the 4th century -- is estimated to be worth £100,000, or about $160,000 in U.S. dollars.

According to the Helmel Gazette newspaper, the man -- whose name has not been made public -- reportedly bought a beginner’s metal detector from a shop in the Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, area.  A few weeks later, the man returned to the shop, showed the shopkeepers 40 gold coins, and asked them: “What do I do with this?”

The shop’s owners, David Sewell and Mark Becher, were stunned.  They told the novice treasure hunter to notify authorities of his discovery, the paper added.  When he obtained the required permits, Sewell, Becher and others returned with the man to the discovery site.

“We went with them and took with us a couple of slightly more potent machines and we pulled 119 more coins out of the ground,” Sewell told the Daily Mail newspaper.  “These are 22 carat gold, they haven’t got any damage and they came out of the ground looking like the day they were made.”

He added: “I’ve found bits and pieces but nothing like this.  I’ve got immense satisfaction that the guy came to us and bought the machine from us, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish it had been me.”

The local government said the coins were found on private land.  Experts at the British Museum will examine the haul to determine its final value.  Depending on their opinion, the amateur treasure hunter could get at least a share of the proceeds, reports said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun282012

Local Legend Leads to Treasure Trove of Ancient Silver Coins

Conservator Neil Mahrer working in a secret location on the half-ton block of ancient buried treasure. (Orchid Communications)(SAINT HELIER, Jersey) -- Sometimes patience pays off...big time.

For thirty years, amateur archaeologists Reg Mead and Richard Miles have been chasing a rumor of buried treasure on the British island of Jersey. They were just two local eccentrics with an odd hobby, until this week when they hit pay dirt, literally.

"To say it's changed our lives would be an understatement," Mead says.

It all began with a local legend. Back in the 1950s, so the story goes, a farmer on the island unearthed a trove of odd-looking silver coins. There were too many to carry, so he filled a potato sack, and plowed the rest back under the ground. Thus began the rumor of a vast hoard.

But Mead, now 70, suspected there was more than legend here. The coins were described as having a horse on one side and an odd head on the other. He recognized those as Celtic, and Celtic coins have been turning up on Jersey for centuries.

So year after year Mead and Miles swept their metal detectors over a single 20-acre field. Thirty years of patience, and this week it was rewarded. Their detector signaled an enormous amount of metal much deeper than they had been digging.

They dug a small hole three feet down, "and as we put the hand trowel in the last couple of inches, you could hear the metal grinding against metal," Mead said. "I pulled the trowel out and there were five silver coins."

"You just go numb," he said. "It's an amazing feeling."

Those five coins were just the beginning. A crane was needed to lift the hoard, which weighed close to a ton.

Over the centuries, the coins and the local clay have congealed into a solid mass. Archaeologists estimate it could contain as many as 50,000 coins, each worth between $200 and $300.

"Whoever buried it, buried it in haste," said Olga Finch, curator of archaeology at the Jersey Heritage Museum. "They dug down as far as they could...and literally just dumped all the coins in the same pit and backfilled it."

The coins are about 2,100 years old. At the time, the Roman armies of Julius Caesar were making their way north through France, pushing the local Celtic tribes toward the coast. Jersey is just a few miles off the French coast.

Finch says the coins were probably the wealth of an entire village in France, somewhere near modern St. Malo.

As the Romans got nearer, the villagers may have sailed across to the island of Jersey and hastily buried their wealth. The trove was found under a hedge, leading to local jokes about an ancient hedge fund.

No one knows why they never got back to claim their buried treasure. Perhaps they were killed by the Romans, or sold into slavery. Or perhaps they just forgot where they put it.

The hoard, "has still got its secrets and its stories to reveal, which is exciting," Finch says.

The clump itself must now be laboriously picked apart. Archaeologists say it may also contain jewelry and other personal items.

Legally, it is the British Crown that owns the hoard, but Mead and Miles are expecting to be rewarded for their 30 years of patience, and they plan to share their wealth with the owner of the land.

So will Mead and Miles keep digging?

"We've done our bit." Mead said. Once the excitement has died down, he said, he's looking forward to, "a quiet brandy and Coke."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Treasure Hunt! 5 Stashes of Gold, Silver Waiting to Be Found

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gold coins, statues studded with diamonds and other precious stones. A trove of artifacts with a value of more than $22 billion.

That's what's facing -- and causing much debate among -- politicians, religious leaders and historians in Kerala, India, where a bounty of riches was recently found in a 16th-century Hindu temple.

Six days of searches ordered by India's Supreme Court unearthed treasures upon treasures donated during hundreds of years by temple patrons.

E. Lee Spence, an underwater archaeologist and well-known treasure hunter in South Carolina, called the find in India "amazing."

He said that an aspiring treasure finder didn't have to head across the world to uncover riches, though.

"There are multibillion-dollar treasures on this side of the world that can be found," Spence said.

With the riches at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple causing a major stir, ABC News put together a list of five unfound treasures that still have hunters and historians perplexed.

The Amber Room: Dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the Amber Room was crafted almost entirely of six tons of glowing amber. It was estimated to be worth $150 million in 2008.

Built by Prussian King Frederic the First, it dazzled kings and queens for 300 years and was sent to Russia as a gift in 1716. During World War II, the Nazis moved the German-made room to the Konigsberg Castle where it was put on display.

After the tide of war turned, the Germans boxed it up and it hasn't been seen since. The room was recreated in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Blackbeard's Treasure:
Though artifacts from Blackbeard's flagship -- the Queen Anne's Revenge -- are on display at a North Carolina museum, one won't find any treasure left by man the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum calls "the most notorious pirate who ever sailed the high seas."

According to David Moore, a nautical archaeologist at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, Blackbeard ran his ship aground, giving him and his crew time to remove all valuables. According to lore, Blackbeard responded when asked about where he'd buried his treasure that nobody but he and the devil knew where it was.

Treasure of Lima: In 1820 Spanish leadership and clergy in Lima, Peru, shipped their riches to Mexico under the command of a Capt. William Thompson. The valuables were worth nearly $60 million and included gold statues and jeweled swords.

Thompson killed everyone on the ship and sailed to Cocos Island near Costa Rica and buried the treasure in a cave. He did try to recover the loot but was unsuccessful as were many others.

Montezuma's Treasure:
Aztec emperor Montezuma collected his treasures -- including gold, silver and sculptures -- during years of deadly conquests.

After the emperor was killed by his people, explorer Hernan Cortes and the Conquistadors fled Mexico, dumping the riches they'd stolen from the emperor into the street. Later, with a larger team, they returned and Cortes and his men searched the lands looking for the treasure but found nothing.

Some historians say the treasure remains where the Conquistadors dropped it -- underneath the city.

Yamashita's Gold: No one is absolutely certain that this treasure exists but many books, articles and websites exist on the story.

Legend goes that during World War II, Japan sent its war loot to the Philippines.

The story goes that when the ship arrived in the Philippines, a Japanese general named Tomoyuki Yamashita was assigned to hide the treasure in tunnels. It's said that after the war ended, Japan had the treasure returned but historians have never found credible proof that the stash ever existed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio