10 Archaeological Discoveries & Famous Treasure Troves
to become rich in thier lifetime. Many people scour thrift
10. Original Copy of the American
Declaration of Independence
Donald Scheer, a Philadelphia financial analyst, purchased a painting
On a separate, but interesting
note on July 2, 2009, British researchers
9. Fishpool Hoard
On March 22, 1966, an unusual hoard
of treasure was found by construction
8. Nuestra Señora de Atocha
Beginning in 1561 and continuing until
1748, Spanish trade with the colonies
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
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.
Rob - September 7, 2009 at 7:39 AM
Michael Stone - January 30, 2010
Radu - April 29, 2010