01From ancient myths such as Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece to literary tales like Treasure Island, humans have always been fascinated with the idea of valuable goods hidden in various corners of the world just waiting to be found by the right person. This sense of adventure was enabled further by the popularity of the Indiana Jones movies in the 1980s and then National Treasure in the early 2000s. While most of these treasures are fictional, that hasn’t stopped people from trying to find, supposedly, real-life treasures that exist, from the fantastic Seven Cities of Gold to the notorious Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Many people have spent their whole lives attempting to find these, with some even perishing over them.
Such was the case with the Lake Toplitz treasure in Austria, where the Third Reich apparently dumped a lot of money towards the end of WWII, though the only thing that’s been found are a bunch of counterfeit British bills. Yet this didn’t stop treasure-hunters from diving deeper into the lake to find the “Real treasure” at the cost of their own lives, leading to the Austrian government’s restriction on exploring the area further. But in this article, we’re going to showcase the various treasures that have been found with no harm done to the finders but still highlight some that have yet to be found.
25 Found: The Ophel Treasure
During an archeological excavation in Jerusalem, a decent-sized treasure was found on September 9th, 2013, according to Oddee. Named after the ruins near the famous Temple Mount hill, the Ophel treasure consisted of 36 coins made of gold including: a medallion that has a menorah depicted on it (as shown above), along with two others as well as a coil and a couple of pendants that might have been ornaments on a Torah scroll.
Together, these items date back to the late Byzantine period when the Persians conquered Jerusalem during 614 CE (or AD) that were possibly left behind.
24 Still looking: El Dorado
Meaning “Golden One” in Spanish, it was first heard of by the Spaniards in the 1500s who made their way across Central America till they reached Lake Guatavita where this legendary treasure supposedly originated from.
It turned out El Dorado was apparently a sacred ritual performed by the native Muisca tribe’s leader who coated himself in gold and threw various gold items into the lake as a way to honor the Gods.
This, in turn, led the Spanish to attempt to drain the lake in 1545, where they recovered some gold, followed by another attempt many centuries later in 1911.
23 Found: The Saddle Ridge Hoard
One day in April 2014, a California couple was on a walk with their dog when they found a metal can sticking out of the ground according to Dan Whitcomb of Reuters. Rusted from age, they were able to open the can after digging it out finding a large cache of gold coins inside.
Soon, the couple found similar cans on their property containing coins dating back to the Nineteenth Century, though it’s unclear why they were buried there or who was responsible.
Regardless, the coins were then taken to the Kagin’s currency firm and nicknamed the "Saddle Ridge Hoard".
22 Found: The Frome Hoard
Named after a town in the Somerset County of England, this large collection of Roman coins was found by a man named David Crisp in 2010. A metal detectorist, by profession, he came across this hoard when his detector went off.
After digging up 21 coins, he dug deeper and found a pot that was two-feet tall in height before calling the authorities.
Once the pot was revealed to contain more coins, bringing the total amount to 52,503, the collection was eventually brought to the Museum of Somerset with an estimated value of 320,250 pounds (or about 409,797 dollars).
21 Still looking: The Florentine Diamond
So here’s a real-life version of the Pink Panther diamond (from the original film with Peter Sellers and not the Steve Martin remake). Weighing 137.27 carats, this special diamond originally came from India according to Reader’s Digest winding up in the hands of the Medici family before ending up with the Imperial Family of Austria.
But when the Imperial Family was forced into exile following the outbreak of WWI, they took the diamond to Switzerland with them and it was never seen again.
This led to several theories about its disappearance, from being stolen to being fractured.
20 Found: The Harrogate Hoard
Three years before the Frome Hoard was found, this one was discovered with the use of metal detectors as well in the town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire County, England. The two people that uncovered it were David and Andrew Whelan, a semi-retired businessman and his son.
Apart from 617 coins made of silver, the hoard also contained various ornaments and jewelry, such as necklaces, with one made from pure gold.
Because the coins come from different places, it is assumed the hoard belonged to a rich Viking who lived in the Kingdom of Northumbria during the Tenth Century.
19 Found: The Ringlemere Hoard
Found near the turn of the century, specifically the year 2001, this collection of Anglo-Saxon items was unearthed at a farm close to Kent County in England by an amateur archaeologist named Cliff Bradshaw who found them using a metal detector.
Among the items he came across included a brooch and a cup that was 14 centimeters in height (as shown above).
Unfortunately, its sides were badly crushed by a plough, presumably, so Bradshaw alerted the authorities and the hoard was taken to the British Museum. Afterwards, the area was properly excavated revealing an Early Bronze Age burial site.
18 Still looking: The Max Valentin Owl
In the early 90s, a treasure-hunt book titled Sur la trace de la chouette d’or (or On The Trail Of The Golden Owl in English) was published by a man who went by the alias “Max Valentin”.
He claimed to have hidden a golden owl statue in the French countryside and would give whoever found it one million Francs, which is approximately 992,216 dollars, as a reward.
While the book contained several clues to the owl’s whereabouts, no one has been able to find its true location to this day which wasn’t helped by the author’s passing in 2009.
17 Found: The Cuerdale Hoard
In 1840, some bridge workers were working near the river that runs through the Cuerdale area which contains the titular Cuerdale Hall and no other settlements currently (though back then it was a small town).
It was here that they found a box made of lead, and opened it to find a large Viking treasure containing approximately 8,600 items according to BBC History, which included silver coins jewelry and ingots.
Following this discovery, the men each took a coin for themselves before presenting the rest to Queen Victoria leading some of it to eventually end up at the British Museum.
16 Found: The Hoxne Hoard
During the early 90s, a British farmer named Peter Whatling lost a hammer. This in turn led him to call a friend over, whose metal detector found not just the hammer but something more.
Inside a wooden chest made from oak, the two men uncovered a bunch of silverware jewelry and coins made from silver and gold.
According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, these items date back to somewhere between the Fourth and Fifth Centuries implying them to be Roman in origin. This was further confirmed when archeologists did further digging in the area and found Roman bowls and ladles.
15 Some found: The Confederate Gold
After the Civil War came to an end, there was millions of dollars’ worth of unaccounted gold. The cause of this has been speculated by many historians and treasure-hunters alike, though a few facts have cropped up.
For instance, when the leader of the Confederacy was forced to flee Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865 he took two trains southward with one containing the entire treasury of the Confederate States.
After depositing some of it in different places for safekeeping, the rest of the gold apparently went missing leading some to speculate that it eventually ended up in Lake Michigan.
14 Found: The Staffordshire Treasure
Estimated to be 4.1 million dollars in value, this treasure trove was found in 2009 when a guy named Terry Herbert combed a plowed field near Hammerwich village in Staffordshire County, England, with a metal detector.
Here, he found a bunch of items that were Anglo-Saxon in origin, ranging from military items to religious artifacts.
Though archeologists haven’t been able to get an exact date on the items’ origin, they are thought to be from the Eighth Century and possibly earlier when England was divided into several small kingdoms including Mercia Kent and Northumbria just to name a few.
13 Found: The Środa Treasure
During the mid-80s, a couple of buildings in the town of Środa Śląska, Poland, were about to be demolished when some interesting artifacts were uncovered. While the first item was a vase containing 3,000 coins made of silver, several others included a golden crown (as shown above), as well as a ring that had an insignia shaped like a dragon head.
Dating back to the Fourteenth Century, many archeologists have speculated about where these treasures came from and how valuable they really are. The most popular theory, though, is that they were pawned off by Charles IV of Bohemia.
12 Still looking: The Awa Maru Treasure
Towards the end of WWII, this ship became the center of a messy situation where America wanted to send supplies to their POW in Japan. But in exchange, they had to let Japanese ships pass through America’s naval defenses without bombing them.
So they attempted to sneak out several things to turn the war in their favor including their smartest people historical artifacts and other valuables that are now worth 5-10 billion dollars in value.
But due to a communication error, the Awa Maru was torpedoed and sank into the sea near China.
11 Found: The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Treasure
If that name sounds like a mouthful, then get a load of this! During an inspection of this sacred temple that was ordered by the Supreme Court of India in 2011, the archeologists and firefighters that were hired came across some underground chambers which contained valuable items estimated to be billions of dollars worth in value.
These range from bags of diamonds to gold coins from the East India Company and more.
While some have speculated the value of this treasure surpasses the valuables in the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple further north, that is heavily debatable due to some recent controversy.
10 Found: The Caesarea Treasure
Named after an ancient city on the coast of Israel, now a national park, there have been several valuables discovered in the harbor of this area.
The first major one happened in 2015, when two divers discovered approximately 2,000 gold coins dating between the Tenth and Twelfth Centuries.
Then, a year later, two more divers found the remains of a sunken ship and uncovered several bronze statues and other items (as shown above) that appear to be Roman. Though in particular, the era of Emperor Constantine (which was from 306-337 AD) whom the city of Constantinople is named after.
9 Found: The Panagyurishte Treasure
In 1949, three brothers in Bulgaria were digging for clay in the titular town when they uncovered several objects made from pure gold. Making up more than 13 pounds in terms of weight, these objects were carved into drinking horns (such as the above image), special vases and decanters which all come from the Fourth Century BC.
It is believed that these items were used for religious purposes, particularly by the Thracians who occupied the land that would become Bulgaria during this period of time, though the term “Thracian” was a label that the Ancient Greeks placed on these people.
8 Found: The Bactrian Gold
Excavated at the Tillya Tepe site in Afghanistan, later known as the Bactrian Gold site, this collection consists of over 200,000 gold ornaments taken from burial mounds that date from the First Century BC to the First Century AD.
On top of that, the items came from several different countries of origin including India China and Greece.
Though the collection was unearthed in 1978, it was thought to be lost following several incidents of looting at Afghanistan’s National Museum, which occurred during the Afghan-Russian conflicts. Since then, most of the items have been recovered and reside in various museums.
7 Still looking: The Oak Island Money Pit
Originally discovered in 1795 according to the Huffington Post, this elusive treasure off the coast of Nova Scotia in Canada has grabbed the attention of treasure-hunters for centuries.
It began when a teenage boy known as Daniel McGuinness was drawn to the island because he apparently saw lights and stumbled onto a hole.
Thinking there was treasure buried, he and his friends started digging into it but ultimately found nothing. Yet this didn’t stop others from trying to succeed where they left off, creating a deeper hole in the process, along with several others making the original practically vanish.
6 Found: The Siebenberg House Artifacts
Located in the Jewish Quarter in Old City, Israel, this house has become a museum of sorts after its owner Theo Siebenberg uncovered a cache of various items of archeological significance. After buying the house in 1970 following the notorious Six Day battle, Siebenberg spent 18 years digging beneath it to prove skeptics wrong that there were indeed significant remains from ancient times buried.
His hard work paid off when he uncovered some rooms carved into the rock, ritual baths known as Mikvahs (or Mikvehs), and burial vaults that date back to 3,000 years during the reign of King Solomon.