Wednesday, November 30, 2011

10 Archaeological Discoveries & Famous Treasure Troves

Everyone wants to become rich in their lifetime. Many people scour thrift stores in hopes of finding a fortune, while others take the archeologist’s approach and search underground sites and the oceans.  Occasionally, a rare and valuable artifact will be discovered.  Discovering ancient treasure or valuables can be thrilling, especially if you profit from the find.  The amount of buried treasure on earth is abundant, but much of it lies on desolate land and in the deep sea.This list will be examining some of the most infamous and interesting treasure stories, documenting surprise discoveries and treasure troves.I wish I can find such discoveries.Lets look the 10 best.            

10. Original Copy of the American
Declaration of Independence


In 1989, Donald Scheer, a Philadelphia financial analyst, purchased a painting in an Adamstown, PA flea market.  He didn’t particularly like the painting, but bought the item for the old frame.  It cost him $4.  When taking the painting out of the frame it subsequently fell apart, but he noticed a peace of paper lurking within.  It was an old copy of the United States Declaration of Independence.He had it appraised and to his surprise it was an original copy of the Declaration of Independence that was printed by John Dunlap.Before this find only 24 original copies of this document were in existence, only three of them privately owned.  In 1991, Scheer sold the rare print at an auction and fetched $2.42 million dollars, making him an instant millionaire.

The invention of the internet helped expand the consumer market on this rare item and in 2000 the same print sold for $8.14 million dollars in an online auction.  The print tends to increase in value by around $1 million dollars every year.
On a separate, but interesting note on July 2, 2009, British researchers announced that they had discovered another original Dunlap Broadside print of America’s Declaration of Independence.  It was found at the British National Archives.  Strangely, two of these prints were discovered in the span of 20 years, but another discovery like this will probably never occur.

9. Fishpool Hoard


On March 22, 1966, an unusual hoard of treasure was found by construction workers on a building site in the village of Fishpool, near present day Cambourne Gardens, which is located near Ravenshead, which is a village and civil parish in the Gedling district of Nottinghamshire, England.  It borders Papplewick, Newstead Abbey and Blidworth, and is part of Nottinghamshires Hidden Valleys area.The treasure was comprised of 1,237 coins, four rings,
four pieces of jewelry, and two lengths of chain. The hoard was unusual because it contained both coins and jewelry made entirely of gold, which made it easier for historians to date. 
It was probably deposited sometime between the winter of 1463 and summer of 1464, during a rebellion against the Yorkist king Edward IV in the first decade of the Wars of the Roses. Most of the coins were English notables,ranging from 1327-1464, but 223 international coins were also included. It was an extremely large treasure, as hoards in this area usually consist of only a
few objects. Historians claim that it must have been deposited in a very unusual, emergency situation. Today, the treasure is valued at £300,000 euros. It is housed at the British Museum. Upon discovery, it was collected by the state and the finders were not compensated.


8. Nuestra Señora de Atocha


Beginning in 1561 and continuing until 1748, Spanish trade with the colonies followed a well-established system. Two fleets a year were sent to the New World. The ships brought supplies to the colonists and were then filled with silver, gold, and agricultural products for the return voyage back to Spain. In 1622, a fleet of these ships was struck by a devastating storm and many ships sunk off the coast of the Florida Keys. The most famous was the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. When the ship went down it had vast amounts of copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, jewels, jewelry, and indigo.The Spaniards conducted salvage operations for several years and recovered around half the treasure, but it was difficult because many ships sank in deep water. They never located the Atocha. In 1985, American treasure hunter Mel Fisher discovered the sunken vessel. It was salvaged and the mother load of gold, silver, and emeralds is valued at $450 million dollars. It included over 40 tons of gold and silver and Columbian emeralds. After the discovery, the
United States government claimed title to the wreck and the State of Florida seized many of the items Fisher had retrieved from his earliest salvage expeditions. After eight years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Fisher. He has become extremely wealthy from the discovery. 


7. Jackson Pollock Painting?

In 1992, Teri Horton purchased a painting in a San Bernardino, California thrift shop. It was a very large work and she purchased it for only $5. Horton put the item out at a garage sail and a local art teacher suggested that the painting was extremely similar to Jackson Pollock’s action painting technique.Jackson Pollock is one of the most influential and important American artists
of the 20th century. Horton took the painting to numerous art connoisseurs and the response was mixed. Some felt it was an original Pollock painting and others were not convinced. The authenticity is difficult to establish because the painting was purchased at a thrift store, is unsigned, and is without provenance, the documentation of a painting’s history.

Forensic specialists have inspected the art and matched a partial fingerprint on the canvas to a fingerprint on one of Pollock’s paint cans and two other authenticated Jackson Pollack works.  An original Pollock is worth anywhere from $50 million dollars to hundreds of millions.  One of his paintings, called "Number 5," recently sold for a record $140 million.  Horton proclaims that her painting is worth around $50 million dollars.  In recent interviews she claims to have turned town an offer of $9 million dollars for the art.  To date she has yet to sell the item.


6. Hoxne Hoard

Hoxne is a village in the Mid Suffolk district of Suffolk, England, about five miles southeast of Diss, Norfolk.  On November 16, 1992, Eric Lawes was patrolling a field in Hoxne with a metal detector looking for a local farmer’s hammer.The machine started going crazy and Lawes realized that something large was buried underground. He called the Suffolk Archaeological Unit and the Hoxne treasure was discovered. It included a cache of approximately 15,000 late 4th and early 5th century Roman gold and silver coins and around 200 items of silver tableware and jewelry. They had been buried in a wooden chest. It is the largest hoard of Roman silver and gold ever discovered.The treasure was probably hidden during the political turmoil of the time, when the Roman Empire started to break apart in Britain. The gold coins all are solidi and are 99% percent pure. Most were struck between AD 394 and 405,when Honorius ruled the western empire and his brother Arcadius the eastern.They come from thirteen different mints and represent eight different emperors.The entire hoard was considered a treasure trove, which means that it is old
enough to be presumed that the true owner is dead and the heirs undiscoverable. It was purchased by the British Museum and today many items are on display to the public. Lawes and the tenant farmer received £1.75 million for the find, which they divided equally. It was the largest payment ever given out since the Treasure Act was introduced.


5. Środa Treasure

Środa Śląska is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland.  On June 8, 1985, construction workers discovered gold and silver coins during demolition of an old building. The authorities secured the original find of 3,000 Prague groschen. Three years later during a demolition in the vicinity of the first discovery, an even bigger find was reported.  Most of the treasure was looted and disappeared before it could be taken by the authorities, although many important and valuable historic artifacts were found.  The treasure most likely belonged to the Emperor Charles IV of the House of Luxemburg.  Around 1348, needing funds to support his claim to the Emperorship, Charles pawned various items to the Jewish banker Muscho in
Środa.  Soon afterwards, the black plague visited
Środa Śląska and historical records come to an abrupt end.The Środa Treasure is incredibly valuable and is one of the most important archeological finds in 20th century. The treasure is mostly kept in the Regional Museum in Środa Śląska.  Some highlights include a gold woman's crown,which probably belonged to Blanche of Valois, one of the wives of the emperor Charles IV.  Four gold pendants, a medieval gold clasp decorated with precious stones, a ring with heads of dragons, a ring with sapphire, a ring with moon and star, 39 gold coins, and thousands of silver coins. 

4. Nanhai No. 1


In 1987, divers off the coast of Guangdong, which is located on the southern coast of People's Republic of China, accidently discovered a massive shipwreck.  Investigators found the vessel to be the 25-meter-long and 3,800 ton Nanhai No. 1.  The Nanhai No. 1 is believed to be a merchant vessel that operated between the southern Chinese region and the rest of the world.  It was the first ancient vessel discovered on the "Marine Silk Road" of the South China Sea.  The treasure on board is truly amazing and impossible to value.Initial excavations have revealed beautiful green glazed porcelain plates, blue porcelain and tin pots, as well as chinaware specially designed for foreign markets.  There could be up to 70,000 relics on the ship.  Archaeologists believe the ship dates back to the second period of the Song Dynasty (1127-1279).  It is well preserved, lying upright on the seabed with its hull hard and intact.
At the end of 2007 the ship was
hoisted from a depth of 30 meters below the South China Sea and has been soaking in a sealed pool in the "Crystal Palace" at the Marine Silk Road Museum in Yangjiang.  In the last couple months Chinese archaeologists won permission to start an excavation into the cabins of the 800-year-old shipwreck. Archaeologists have already recovered more than 4,000 artifacts including gold, silver, and porcelain, as well as about
6,000 copper coins from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  Many of the porcelain artifacts are rare handcrafted pieces of art.  Officials hope that the vessel might confirm the existence of an ancient maritime trade route linking China and the West.


3. Pereshchepina Treasure

In 1912, a small boy was exploring the village of Mala Pereshchepina, which is 13 km from Poltava, Ukraine, when he fell into the grave of Kuvrat, the founder of Great Bulgaria and father of Asparuh, the first Bulgarian Emperor. The boy discovered a vast treasure containing more than 800 items.  Renowned archaeologist Count Aleksey Bobrinsky extracted the hoard. There were 19 silver vessels and 16 gold vessels, including a striking rhyton. Probably the
most fascinating artifacts are a staff with gold facing and a well-preserved iron sword with an end in the form of a ring and gold facing.

The treasure also consists of gold jewellery, an earring, seven bracelets,golden plaques, and seven rings with inlays of precious stones.  Some of the most historically significant items are a necklace of gold Byzantine coins,dating from the reign of Emperor Maurice (582–602).  There is also a Sassanian dish bearing an image of Shapur the Great (309–379), and a Byzantine dish with an inscription of the early 6th-century bishop of Tomis.The total weight in gold exceeds 25 kilograms.


2. Vindolanda Tablets

Vindolanda was one of the main military posts on the northern frontier of Britain before the building of the Hadrian wall.  In the early 1970’s the area was being excavated and Robin Birley discovered fragments of wooden leaf-tablets with writing in ink containing messages to and from members of the garrison of Vindolanda Roman fort.  The tablets had been preserved in waterlogged conditions in rubbish deposits in and around the commanding officer’s residence.  Since the original discovery hundreds of other fragments have surfaced, they are the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.
Archaeologists have dated the writings to 100 AD. The tablets have given remarkable insight into the working and private lives of the Roman garrison.Historians have learned much from the discovery, including information about specific writing styles and mediums.  It was confirmed that the Romans had a nickname for the Britons, which was
Brittunculi.  Other tablets confirmed that the Romans soldiers wore underpants and it also testifies to the high degree of literacy in the Roman army.  Birley didn’t personally receive monetary gain,but his original discovery gave major insights into our history.  Today, the tablets are held at the British Museum.


1. Panagyurishte Treasure

Panagyurishte is a town in Pazardzhik Province, western Bulgaria.On the morning of December 8, 1949, three brothers, Pavel, Petko, and Michail Deikovi, were working together at the region of “Merul” tile factory near Panagyurishte.  They were processing a new layer of clay, when the brothers noticed shiny and glossy objects in the ground.  They immediately reported the discovery to city authorities and the Panagyurishte treasure was found.

The Panagyurishte treasure consists of nine solid gold utensils, all with rich decoration of scenes and Thracian myths.  The items discovered include
 a phial, an amphora, and seven rhytons, with a total weight of 6,164 kg of 23-karat gold.  The hoard was dated from the 3rd to 4th centuries BC, and is thought to have been used as a royal ceremonial set by the Thracian king Seuthes III.  The hoard contains some of the most impressive surviving artifacts of Thracian culture.  The treasure has been displayed in museums all over the world and is the centerpiece of the Thracian art collection of the Plovdiv Archaeological Museum.  It has an undetermined value.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...