Category Archive 'Buried Treasure'

03 Aug 2016

Missing Treasure Hunter’s Body Identified, Apparently in Completely Wrong Location

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RandyBilyeu
The late Randy Bilyeu and Leo

Last January 5th, 54-year-old Randy Bilyeu launched an $89 inflatable raft and set off down the Rio Grande, accompanied by Leo his nine-year-old poodle-terrier-mix, to find the 12th-century Romanesque chest, reputedly containing 42 pounds of gold coins, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, ancient jade carvings, pre-Columbian bracelets, and gold nuggets, stashed deliberately for the benefit of treasure hunters by the colorful Santa Fe art dealer Forest Fenn in 2010.

His ex-wife filed a missing persons report after not hearing from him for several days, and on January 15th Leo and his raft were found seven miles down river.

Bilyeu’s remains were finally found in the same general area last month.

Robert Sanchez, of Denver’s 5280 Magazine, talked to Forest Fenn:

Fenn seemed perturbed at the thought of Bilyeu and his dog going onto the Rio Grande in a sporting-goods-store raft with no training and in the dead of winter. “I’ve said that people should not search in the winter,” Fenn said. In the past, he also said the treasure isn’t in a dangerous place. He said he made two trips from his vehicle in one afternoon—the first to carry the chest, the second to deliver the contents. “I don’t want anybody searching where an 80-year-old man couldn’t have made two trips,” he said. “Randy’s raft was very far from his car. Randy was going to go down the river, somehow get back, and he was going to do that twice? The chest is 42 pounds. What was his exit plan?”

That, he said, is just the beginning of his disappointment with Bilyeu’s strategy. “The treasure is in the Rocky Mountains, at least eight and a quarter miles north of the north city limits of Santa Fe,” Fenn said. “Frijoles Canyon is not in the Rocky Mountains. Why was he looking in a place that wasn’t in the designated search area?” To Fenn, Bilyeu’s poorly organized plan, and the area he decided to search, “point to the fact that maybe he didn’t care. Maybe he wanted to disappear.”

Read the whole thing.

BilyeuMap

29 Apr 2016

Half a Ton of Roman Coins Found Near Seville

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SevilleCoins

RT News:

Construction workers repairing water pipes in Seville, southern Spain, have discovered 600kg of ancient Roman coins, covered with dirt and dust. The find is said to be worth at least “several million euros.”

Tens of thousands of bronze coins, dating back to the third and fourth centuries, were found inside 19 Roman amphoras in the town of Tomares near Seville, El Pais reported.

“This find is extremely important,” Ana Navarro, head of Seville’s Archeology Museum now looking after the find, told El Pais. “It is a unique collection, and there are very few similar cases,” she added.

The discovery of the jars full of coins happened on Wednesday during construction work about 10 kilometers from Seville.

“Those are not amphoras meant to store wine or oil. They are smaller and were used to transport other goods. Surprisingly [they were] used to save money,” Navarro told the newspaper.

AFP quoted Navarro as saying the coins, stamped with inscriptions of Emperors Maximian and Constantine on the reverse side, are worth “several million euros.”

“I could not give you an monetary value, because the value they really have is historical and you can’t calculate that.”

Although most coins are bronze, archaeologists say some appear to be silver-plated. “Most show little evidence of wear, which means they were not in circulation,” Navarro explained.

“It is surprising to have found 19 jars filled with coins. Out hypothesis is that the money was used to pay imperial taxes or paying the army,” Navarro told the newspaper, adding that the amphoras were probably hidden “because of social conflicts, violence [and other] threats.”

Local authorities have suspended work on the water pipes to carry out archaeological excavations at the site.

11 Dec 2015

New Viking Hoard Found by Metal Detector in Oxfordshire

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WatlingtonHoard2

Telegraph:

A Viking hoard discovered by an amateur metal detectorist could prompt the re-writing of English history, after experts claimed it shows how Alfred the Great “airbrushed” a rival king from history.

Ceolwulf II of Mercia is barely mentioned in contemporary records and largely forgotten by history, only briefly described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an “unwise King’s thane”.

The hoard was found by James Mather, a metal detectorist, near Watlington in OctoberThe hoard was found by James Mather, a metal detectorist, near Watlington in October Photo: Julian Simmonds/The Telegraph

But as of today, his reputation might be rescued after a haul of coins dug up after more than 1,000 years suggested he in fact had a powerful alliance with Alfred, ruling their kingdoms as equals.

The hoard, made up of 186 coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 ingots, was found by amateur metal detectorist James Mather on his 60th birthday, after he uncovered it in a muddy field.

Guardian story

AlfredCeowulfCoin

30 Jun 2015

The Thrill of Forrest Fenn’s Chase

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ForrestFenn

Taylor Clark, in California Sunday Magazine, has a helluva story about a still-ongoing treasure hunt arranged for his own amusement by a colorful millionaire art dealer.

Five years ago, a legendary art dealer left his home in Santa Fe, traveled to an undisclosed location somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and hid a 42‑pound chest filled with priceless treasure.

In the summer of 1988, not long after doctors removed his cancer-plagued right kidney… late one night, Fenn had an idea… He would stuff a treasure chest with glittering valuables, write a clue-laden poem that would point to its location, and then march out to his favorite spot on earth to take some pills and lie in eternal repose with the gold, like a doomed conquistador in an Indiana Jones movie. All he needed was someone to write and publish the book in which he’d place the poem. “Because there was no point in hiding it if no one knew I hid it,” Fenn said.

“Forrest told me the idea at lunch one day,” recalled the bestselling author Douglas Preston, a longtime friend and one of the first writers Fenn approached. “His plan was to inter himself with the treasure, so that anyone who found it could essentially rob his grave. I said, ‘God, Forrest, that’s a terrific story — ​you’re the guy who’s going to take it with you!’” Still, Preston didn’t go for the idea… and neither did any of the other writers. “I think they didn’t like the idea of me dying out in the trees someplace,” Fenn said.

Fenn’s failure to launch this scheme was no great disappointment, however, for the simple reason that his cancer treatment worked. Yet he couldn’t let go of his treasure idea. He held on to the chest he’d bought, an ornate bronze lockbox, and spent years filling it. Fenn tinkered with its contents constantly, aiming to create a stash that would dazzle anyone who opened it: gold coins, Ceylon sapphires, ancient Chinese carved-jade faces, Alaskan gold nuggets the size of chicken eggs — some of these items coming from his own private collection, others acquired just to add to the hoard.

For the next 20 years, Fenn kept the chest in a vault in his Santa Fe home, covered with a red bandanna. Occasionally, he’d test out its amazement quotient on friends, who tended to view the whole thing as just another amusing Fennian lark. Certainly, few of them expected he’d actually hide it. For one thing, the man was a born raconteur who readily admitted to embellishing his stories. For another, the treasure was worth a fortune — seven figures, most likely — and not even Fenn was crazy enough to just give something like that away. And after so many years of talk, if he was really going to do it, wouldn’t he have done it already?

Then, sometime around 2010, Fenn did it. Without even telling his wife, Peggy, he slipped out and squirreled away his chest — to which he’d added a miniature autobiography, sealed with wax in an olive jar — somewhere in the wilds of the Rockies. It took him two trips from his car to get all of the treasure to the hiding spot, because it weighed 42 pounds and he was in the neighborhood of his 80th birthday by then. For a while, Fenn kept what he’d done secret. His own daughters didn’t find out about it until he self-published his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, complete with the poem he’d spent years refining.

Read the whole thing, and bring your shovel.

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The author serves up an anecdote from his first meeting with Fenn, which illustrates beautifully that grand eccentric’s philosophic approach to collecting historical artifacts.

I tell you what,” Fenn said at the end of our first afternoon together, hoisting himself up from the leather sofa. “I’ll give you a treat.” He shuffled over to one of the floor-to-ceiling bookcases that line his library and pulled out an old green bottle that I recognized immediately from Too Far to Walk, one of the nine other books he’s written.

“This is the Jackie Kennedy brandy,” I said, startled.

In June of 1984, Fenn lodged Kennedy in the guesthouse of his gallery, where she was a model visitor. “A lot of people stayed at my guesthouse, and she’s the only one who left my cleaning lady a $50 tip and a two-page handwritten letter,” he told me. When Kennedy departed, she left behind a mostly empty bottle of Korbel brandy, which now enjoys pride of place next to Fenn’s Air Force medals. In the past 30 years, he has offered sips from the bottle to only two people. He unscrewed its top and extended it to me.

“Now, you take a big swig, I’m gonna punch you out,” he warned.

I held the bottle for a moment, hesitating. Wasn’t this, in its way, a piece of American history? I took the tiniest volume of liquid that could plausibly be called a sip into my mouth, held it for a moment, and swallowed.

“So, do you feel different now?” Fenn asked.

I couldn’t say that I did. History tasted pretty much exactly like old brandy. Yet for the rest of my life, I’d be able to say I shared a drink with Jackie Kennedy.

“See, when I look at you taking a sip of this, I would think of you feeling like you’re on a different plateau,” Fenn said, grinning. “Because you’re part of it now. Instead of being a spectator, you’re a player.”

08 Jan 2015

Volunteers Hunting Genghis Khan’s Tomb on Photo Maps From Space

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Genghis-Khan-Empire-Map
Unfortunately not everyone agrees on the probable location of the great khan’s tomb. (click on picture for larger image)

Motherboard has one of those stories that fires the imagination. We just have to hope they’re working on the right location.

Genghis Khan really, really didn’t want anyone to know where he was buried. The soldiers escorting his body to its final resting place killed everyone they passed, killed the people who built the tomb, and then were killed themselves. Some say Mongol troops grazed herds of horses over the site or even diverted a river over it to keep it hidden. The area where many suspect Genghis Khan is buried is one of Mongolia’s most sacred heritage sites—it’s name, Ikh Khorig, actually translates to “The Great Taboo.” For 800 years—until 1989—archeologists weren’t allowed in, and even then the first expedition was met with public protest.

“Mongolians detest any attempt to touch graves, or even wander around graveyards,” Mongolia Today explains. “According to ancient tradition, burial spots are forbidden areas in which no one is allowed.”

Still, and perhaps for that very reason, this region is really interesting for archeologists. That first three-year expedition identified 1,380 underground cavities that could be the graveyards or tombs of Mongolian nobles, potentially even predating Genghis Khan.

Albert Yu-Min Lin, from the Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture, and Archaeology at the University of California, San Diego, devised a way to hunt for Genghis Khan’s tomb without touching or toppling anything: Have anyone who’s interested in doing so tag potential sites of investigation from the comfort of their own homes, on images taken from the respectful distance of satellite orbit.

“Explorers” were welcome to map rivers and roads, and flag modern structures, as well as potentially ancient structures on thousands of ultra-high resolution satellite images of the region. There was a lot of ground to cover—6,000 square kilometers, but there were also a lot of volunteers. The system was launched in June 2010, and in just its first 90 days, 5,838 people had contributed more than 1.2 million tags. By the end of the year, over 10,000 participants had generated 2.3 million tags—contributing a total of 30,000 hours of human visual analytics to the images, according to the study’s initial results, just published in the journal PLOS One.

The results have given future explorers plenty to chew on, too. “Of the top 100 accessible locations identified by the crowd,” the study states, “55 potential archaeological anomalies were verified by the field team, ranging from bronze age to Mongol period in origin.”

Read the whole thing.

03 Jan 2015

Metal Detector Finds Enormous Anglo-Saxon Hoard in Buckinghamshire

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AngloSaxonCoins1

As metal detectors become widely owned and hobbyists take up treasure hunting, inevitably more and more major finds keep coming to light.

Daily Mail:

An amateur treasure hunter who uncovered one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain – worth £1million – almost missed the dig because he couldn’t afford the petrol.

Paul Coleman, 59, persuaded his son and a friend to join him on the excavation on farmland in Lenborough, Buckinghamshire just before Christmas so he could split the £45 cost for the journey.

But the unemployed father-of-two hit the jackpot when he dug up the pristine collection of more than 5,000 silver coins made in the reigns of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016) and Cnut (1016-1035).

It is thought that the find could be connected to a mint established by Ethelred at nearby Buckingham and which remained active during the time of Cnut.

The 5,251 – and a half – coins were in a lead-lined container buried two feet under ground. Only some have been properly cleaned but all have proved to be in excellent condition.

The expedition – in Lenborough, Buckinghamshire – was an annual end-of-year Christmas rally for members of the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club. …

[T]he find, which has been sent to experts at the British Museum for analysis, could be worth around £1million.

Simon Keynes, professor of Anglo Saxon at Cambridge University, said the collection ‘straddled an extraordinary period of history’ during which the Vikings took control of England.

He added: ‘The question is, how do we account for the composition of this hoard? Is it a hoard of a Viking – his accumulated wealth – or is it something else? Only half of the coins have been cleaned so far – the eventual date range could prove to be much more expansive.

‘Until then, the hoard could be difficult to explain, but it is certainly an extraordinary find.’

Read the whole thing.

AngloSaxoncoins2

02 Oct 2014

Seaton Hoard

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Seaton2
The Roman copper-alloy coins date back to between AD 260 and AD 348 and bear the images of Emperor Constantine, his family, co-Emperors and immediate predecessors and successors.

Daily Mail:

An amateur metal detectorist has unearthed one of the largest hoards of Roman coins ever found in Britain.

Laurence Egerton, 51, made the discovery as he explored land near Seaton, in East Devon – and he was so concerned someone would steal it, he camped out for three nights while archaeologists excavated the site.

Dubbed Seaton Down Hoard, the collection of 22,000 copper-alloy coins is thought to have been buried by a private individual or soldier for safe keeping, but was never recovered.

At the time the hoard was buried, it would have amounted to four gold coins, or solidi, which would have provided the ration of two soldiers for one year, or a worker’s pay for two years. …

‘The amount of money in this hoard would at some points have been the equivalent to a soldier’s total salary for two years; at other dates it would have bought the services of a skilled craftsmen for perhaps 80 days; it could buy maybe 1,000 or so pints of Gallic beer (or double quantities of Egyptian beer, which wasn’t so good) or enough grain to feed someone for two years or so.

‘If you try to turn any of those into modern figures, then, it’s clearly not the sort of fortune that would allow you to retire comfortably or buy a nice country estate; on the other hand, in a world where most people were living close to subsistence level and would have few if any savings, it’s pretty impressive that someone had amassed enough money to live on for a year or so.’

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, which already houses a large collection of local Romano-British objects, has launched a fundraising campaign to purchase the coins.

Mr Egerton originally made the discovery in November 2013, while operating under licence on private land near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honeyditches in East Devon.

The coins were buried in a pit, and may have once been held in a bag, which did not survive.

The hoard was excavated by a team of archaeologists, and were cleaned so they could be identified by experts at the British Museum.

Read the whole thing.

Seaton1

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12 Sep 2014

Roman Jewelry Found Beneath Shop in Colchester

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ColchesterJewelry

The hoard is believed to have been buried by Roman residents of Camulodunum circa A.D. 61, when the British Iceni tribe under their Queen Boadicea revolted against Roman rule and destroyed the city.

BBC:

Gold and silver armlets, bracelets, rings and coins were found buried in the remains of a Roman house beneath Williams and Griffin in Colchester.

It is thought they were hidden by their wealthy owner in AD61, when Boudicca’s British tribes burnt down the town.

Colchester Archaeological Trust said it was a “remarkable Roman collection”.

The jewellery was found during renovation work at the shop, which is part of the Fenwick group and currently undergoing a £30m redevelopment.

Philip Crummy, the archaeological trust’s director, said it was discovered three days before the six-month dig was scheduled to end.

It was buried in a layer of red and black debris – the remains of burnt clay Roman walls – found under much of Colchester.

Three gold armlets, a silver chain necklace, two silver bracelets, a silver armlet, a small bag of coins and a small jewellery box containing two sets of gold earrings and four gold finger rings were unearthed by archaeologists.

The “quality” of the jewellery suggested its owner was a wealthy woman and had hidden the jewels to keep them safe from the enemy, Mr Crummy said.

“Boudicca and her army destroyed London and St Albans, though many of their inhabitants had time to escape. The townsfolk of Colchester were not so fortunate.

“They were not evacuated and endured a two-day siege before they were defeated.”

The jewellery has been taken to a laboratory for further examination and cleaning.

In July Mr Crummy’s team discovered human jaw and shin bones under the shop.

They are also believed to date from AD61 and were “likely to be the remains of people who died in buildings set on fire by the British as they overran the town”, Mr Crummy said.

Daily Mail story

Archaeology.org

Wikipedia Boadicea article

Boadicea
Statue of Boadicea near Westminster Pier as commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft. Completed in 1905.


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