Over the years, it’s not just archaeologists who have discovered gold, but common people too. Many treasures were discovered by people who weren’t even looking for these valuable items. Here’s a look at some of the most amazing gold treasures recovered that were once considered to be lost in time:
In 1992, a farmer called Peter Whatling lost a hammer in his farm in England. On asking his friend, a metal detectorist, to help him find the lost hammer, they discovered 14,865 gold, silver, and bronze coins of the late Roman Empire. The entire hoard currently is valuated to be around $4.3 million. All the findings along with Whatling’s missing hammer were donated to the British Museum.
In 2013, the dream of finding gold treasure in one’s backyard came true for a couple living in California. The couple discovered 1,427 gold coins dating back to 1847-1894 while they were walking their dog. They initially stumbled upon one metal can containing gold coins. Subsequent digging and exploration with the help of a metal detector led to the discovery of 7 other cans filled with gold coins. The treasure was estimated to be worth $10 million.
SS Central America (Ship of Gold) was carrying 13,600 kg of gold when it sunk in 1857. Although the shipwreck site was found in 1988, only 5% shipwreck could be excavated. In 2014, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., an American company which engages in the salvage of deep-water shipwrecks, started re-excavating the site. They have recovered more than 15,500 gold and silver coins and 45 gold bars from the shipwreck. The estimated value of the entire horde is around $100-150 million.
The sunken ship of San Hose, a Galleon of the Spanish Navy was found by the Columbian Navy in 2015. The ship sunk in 1708 and is said to have gold, silver, and other precious jewels worth $1 billion. Sea Search Armada (SSA), a group of investors from USA claimed to have found the ship in 1981 and were willing to disclose its location if Columbia agreed to giving SSA 35% of the treasure. However, the Columbian Parliament soon announced that the SSA would be given only 5% of the total findings as finder’s fee. This on-going battle between SSA and Columbia was finally resolved in 2011. The Supreme Court decided that Colombia held the rights to items of the treasure that were esteemed to be 'national cultural patrimony' and that SSA would get 50% of every other item of the treasure.
Staffordshire Hoard is known to be the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. This treasure was found by Terry Herbert, a farmer, when he used his metal detector over his farm in Staffordshire. A total of 3,500 cloisonné garnets, 5.094 kilos of gold and 1.442 kilos of silver were found as the farmer dug for the next five days. The reward for the findings, £3.285 million was split in half between the farmer and the landowner.
Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes - a Spanish Navy frigate was transporting gold and silver coins when it went down during the Battle of Cape Santa Maria. The shipwreck was found by Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. in 2007. Odyssey shipped their findings of almost 50,000 gold and silver coins to the US. However, the government of Spain claimed that since the frigate was a part of the Spanish Navy, they were the rightful owners of the gold. After a legal battle that went on for 5 years, the court ruled that the Spanish government was indeed the rightful owner and the gold has been shipped back to Spain. Calling this a recovered cultural treasure, the Spanish Naval Museum held an exhibition with the help of National Archaeological Museum of Spain displaying the treasure which was once considered to be lost forever.
In 2015, a group of divers discovered a treasure of approximately 2,000 gold coins in the seabed near the port of Caesarea, Israel. The divers notified the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) after their initial discovery. They later dove again alongside a diving team of the IAA to discover the whole treasure. However, the discovery has been declared as a property of the state which is why the divers were given no finder’s fee.