Treasure Hunting and Archaeology

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erewenguy
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Treasure Hunting and Archaeology

A lot of our treasure finds are just precious metals stacks from centuries gone by.

This forum topic is focused on discovering these hoards of the past.

erewenguy
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Magnificent Ancient Roman

Magnificent Ancient Roman Silver Treasure Revealed

Fri, Oct 31, 2014

Accidentally discovered by a French farmer plowing his field near the village of Berthouville in rural Normandy in 1830, the spectacular hoard of gilt-silver statuettes and vessels known as the Berthouville Treasure was an ancient offering to the Gallo-Roman god Mercury. Following four years of meticulous conservation and research in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Antiquities Conservation Department, the exhibition Ancient Luxury and the Roman Silver Treasure from Berthouville, on view at the Getty Villa November 19, 2014, to August 17, 2015, will present this unique collection of ancient silver in its full splendor and offer new insights about ancient art, technology, religion, and cultural interaction. The opulent cache – in the collection of the Cabinet des médailles (now the Department of Coins, Medals and Antiques) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France – is displayed in its entirety for the first time outside of Paris, together with precious gems, jewelry, and other Roman luxury objects from the Cabinet’s royal collections. 

...

While the treasure – consisting of about 90 silver objects weighing more than 50 pounds – was first discovered in 1830, it was not until 1861 and again in 1896 that the site was extensively surveyed and excavated, uncovering the foundations of a Gallo-Roman fanum, a square colonnaded precinct with two temples. One was dedicated to Mercury Canetonensis (of Canetonum), while the other was devoted to his mother Maia or his consort Rosmerta. A theater-shaped gathering space was also found nearby. The site survey did not reveal any evidence of an ancient settlement or cemetery in the immediate area, so it’s possible that Mercury’s sanctuary at Berthouville was a place of pilgrimage, perhaps visited during annual festivals.
    

The most impressive objects in the Berthouville Treasure bear Latin inscriptions stating that they were dedicated to Mercury by a Roman citizen named Quintus Domitius Tutus. Several of the vessels, profusely ornamented in high relief and then gilded, are recognized today as among the finest ancient Roman silver to survive. The elaborately decorated imagery of Tutus’s offerings, except for one ladle that was manufactured specifically for Mercury, feature Bacchic motifs and mythological scenes that are more appropriate to luxurious dining than religious observance. These items were probably presented to Mercury at Berthouville after initial use as private display silver. Subtle differences in their dedicatory inscriptions may indicate that they were given to the god over the course of a few years, again suggesting that it was perhaps offered during annual festivals.
    

Soon after its discovery, the treasure was acquired by the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris where it was cleaned and the disassociated parts of several vessels were reassembled. Since the treasure had been buried over centuries, many of the objects were heavily encrusted and the ancient solder that had held together their components often became separated. The nineteenth-century restoration included the removal of some of the tarnish, accretions, and harder encrustations, and left some deep scratches. Some of the corrosion was so tenacious that it had to be left in place, and a number of objects were restored with materials that were commonplace in the day, including solder, pine resin, and beeswax.
    

...

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/fall-09012014/article/magnificent-ancient-roman-treasure-revealed

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More info and several pics at the source, but the best of the best:

and a link to describe the making of this cup

Fred Hayek
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With all due respect to posterity and archeology, if

If I were digging in my back yard and found 50 pounds of silver items there sure as hell wouldn't be any Getty Museum knowing a damn thing about what I'd found.  Sorry.  Uh un.

You read these stories about poor, foolishly trusting people finding hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of gold coins on their property and naively saying "Oh, come here authorities and see what we found."  And they walk away with nothing. 

Uh un. 

If I had to, that stuff would go into the black market.  I'm not talking dark gray or cloudy skies.  I'm talking jet, pitch, obsidian. 

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erewenguy
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50 pounds of silver?!

50 pounds of silver?!

Quick - someone call the government in to help me!   wink

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More Than 15,500 Gold, Silver

More Than 15,500 Gold, Silver Coins Recovered As Odyssey Marine Wraps Up Summer Salvage

By Kitco News
Tuesday November 11, 2014 10:47 AM

(Kitco News) - According to Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.’s (Nasdaq: OMEX) third quarter results, its recovery and salvage of the SS Central America was a success this summer.

After wrapping up its 2014 salvage operation, the company said that since April they have recovered more than 15,500 silver and gold coins, 45 gold ingots, gold dust, nuggets jewelry and other artifacts.

"While the exact value of the recovered Central America cargo will not be known until it is monetized, we know it is valued in the tens of millions of dollars and well in excess of the project costs,” said Mark Gordon, Odyssey's chief executive officer, in the company’s third quarter press release.

Most of the sunken treasure, from the 1857 shipwreck, was actually collected during the early part of the summer; in July, the company reported that it recovered more than 13,500 gold and silver coins.

The coins that were discovered during the salvage operation included $20 double eagle coins and other coins, ranging in denomination. In July, the company said the coins collected were “a time capsule of virtually all the coins that were used in 1857."

It is unclear if the company will resume its recovery efforts in 2015. In its third quarter report, Odyssey said, during the final summer months, they conducted additional surveys of the shipwreck and surrounding area and with “Ira Owen Kane, the court-appointed Receiver for Recovery Limited Partnership (RLP), will evaluate information and data gathered from the 2014 operations, including these new surveys, to determine future plans.”

The salvage of the SS Central America has been a complicated process and has spanned more than 26 years. The shipwreck was first discovered in 1988, at a depth of 7,200 feet, and recovery operations were conducted until 1991; according to media reports, the initial recovery operations were halted as the discovery became mired in legal disputes; 39 insurance companies filed claims for the recovered gold.

On March 6, Odyssey, a pioneer in deep-ocean exploration, was awarded the exclusive contract for the recovery operation with Recovery Limited Partnership. The company recorded operational and research expenses of $5.1 million for the third quarter of 2014, up from $4.2 million recorded in the third quarter of 2013.

The company said that costs were higher in 2014 partly because crews worked 24-hour shifts during the salvage of the SS Central America.

According to historical records, the SS Central America was caught in a hurricane on Sept. 12, 1857 and sank 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina. The ship was carrying 425 passengers along with a large consignment of gold from ingots to freshly minted coins.

Images courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration: These five gold bars totalling 1,000 ounces were recovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration during its initial reconnaissance dive in early April.

http://www.kitco.com/news/2014-11-11/Odyssey-Marine-Wraps-Up-Summer-Salvage-With-More-Than-15500-Gold-Silver-Coins.html

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Now that's some beautiful

Now that's some beautiful stuff!!  A Centaur.... Mythology?   I say No.  Ancient genetic engineering....now that's a bed time story that you don't tell ya children.

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SS Central America salvage

I've not looked at the financial statements of OMEX but it seems they are probably just breaking even on the coins recovered, their pay is "the rest of the stuff". Wonder if insurance companies want part of the artifacts recovered beyond the gold and silver.

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treasure hunting

Thanks for an interesting thread and opportunity to explore the moral aspects of finders keepers. As a hobbyist metal detector the question I continually ask myself as I dig the next great target is what is it and is it mine. A pull tab or shredded can immediately puts the question to rest although on occasion...

In many countries artifacts and relics are protected by the law and any significant find must be reported to authorities.  I can certainly understand that a nations history and physical connections to it are in the public interest. Indeed I believe the corporate treasure hunters have to give the respective government their due. How about the average Joe coming across a chipped arrowhead that predates Columbus or digging up Civil War relics soon to be almost 200 years old.   Finders Keepers?

How about uncovering something of significant historical importance like say an artifact from George Washington's days surveying east of the Mississippi.  Is it moral to profit from such a find.

Tough question.

To find a gold coin from the turn of the last century covers the moral question of ownership by virtue of anonymity.  How about a gold ring with initials from the same period. Would the descendants have a right to the find?  Someone lost the gold coin as well.   As with the massive treasures described above someone lost it and someone found it. Tough question especially if you have invested years in the hobby/search/enterprise. What if the ring were more modern and the owner could be traced. This whole treasure hunting subject opens up a moral issue I struggle with.  Seems we can not go a month without hearing of significant treasure turning up somewhere in Europe/UK.

Happy hunting.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=you+tube+saxon+gold+hoard&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-ca:IE-Address&ie=&oe=&gfe_rd=cr&ei=bINyVJ3FGaLE8gfs4YCACQ&gws_rd=ssl

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It seems natural law, the law

It seems natural law, the law which this country was founded upon, gives the right of ownership to the finder, not to the state, unless the natural owner is located.  And such laws that require you to give it back to the state because it has "relic" statues come from laws that were enacted by Kings to claim ownership of loss booty.  What else would you expect a king to do?   I am not sure what right next generations have to property that they as individuals never owned.

Look, if my mom lost her favorite brooch which was hand made by the greatest jewlery maker in the world, and years after mom died it was found, could I claim rights to it because it was mom's?  Yeah, I might want it back because of sentimental value but who is to say mom would have left it to me in the first place?  Do I have any claim on it?   Not sure under current law, but I don't think so under natural law since I was never the rightful owner.

Seems to me if I find a Roman Coin having it to give it to a government run museum is in the best interest of the people?  The state?   Not sure how so especially in light that the state is not in the business of telling you the truth about history.  Not sure there is any natural law that transfers property rights of an ancient artifact that belonged to one man who was indigenous and that therefore should transfer to the property of that group of people??

All question marks because I'm not sure and they are indeed tough issues.  So much of what belongs to who has to resides in the emotional realm and of course profit  realm rather than the realm of appropriate rights.

Here is an article on salvage right as it pertains to booty found at sea.  Not sure why rights should be different between water and land.  Interesting discussion.  I've not been a position to really have to consider it because I never find shit. Well actually that's not true, plenty of dog droppings get left near my property.  If I find small amounts of money, I give it to the homeless and if it's something valuable I try to trace the owner.  Wish people would do the same when I lost my stuff.

http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2713&context=wmlr

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Rebel Gold

Has anyone read Rebel Gold, by Bob Brewer and Warren Getler? Pretty interesting read about gold and silver buried after the war between the states, and how Brewer found it. Some dubious history, including white-bread, standard Lincoln loving commentary on the war, but still an exciting read. Possible Masonic connected organization buries gold after the war, some of it still in the ground and possibly still guarded. Like I say, DYODD, but pretty interesting especially living in Hot Springs, AR near all the hot spots. One day I'll find some of it, Lord willing!

Cobalt Silver
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fresh treasure in UK

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2893568/Amateur-treasure-hunter-finds-1-000-year-old-hoard-Anglo-Saxon-coins-worth-1million-buried-farmer-s-field.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

Bongo Jim
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Re: Fresh Treasure

Come On, GET IN!

erewenguy
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@cobalt

Check out the coins in this guy's container. I know the story said these were essentially uncirculated coins but I would still expect some patina on them. Looks like someone dipped (at best) or scrubbed crying these coins

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@erewenguy

Yes they do look bright. Hard to say with ag when buried. I recently found a 125 year old sterling spoon (28 grams) 6 inches deep in black forest soil that surprised me with it's untarnished condition.
I recall the article stated the coins were in a lead container. Could be the ticket.
Happy hunting.

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Boston Time Capsule

Oldest US Time Capsule Opened in Boston

UPDATED 11:37 PM EST Jan 06, 2015

BOSTON —Early residents of Boston valued a robust press as much as their history and currency if the contents of a time capsule dating back to the years just after the Revolutionary War are any guide.

When conservators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston gingerly removed items from the box Tuesday, they found five tightly folded newspapers, a medal depicting George Washington, a silver plaque, two dozen coins, including one dating to 1655, and the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

While some of the coins appeared corroded, other items were in good condition and fingerprints could be seen on the silver plaque.

The capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the Massachusetts Statehouse when construction began in 1795. It was placed there by Revolutionary era luminaries, including Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, governor of Massachusetts at the time.

...
The oldest coin in the box was a 1652 "Pine Tree Schilling," made at a time when the colony didn't have royal authority to create its own currency. Pine trees were a valuable commodity at the time. The trees were used as ship masts.

Michael Comeau, executive director of the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum, said he has seen the coins offered for as much at $75,000, although given the context of this particular coin and the association with Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, the value would likely be much higher.

...

http://www.wcvb.com/news/oldest-us-time-capsule-will-be-opened-today-in-boston/30553878

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Buckinghamshire hoard video

A short follow up video of the Buckinghamshire hoard related to Cobalt Silver's article above

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XNZOUb-uc9I

erewenguy
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A little old but - 6+ lb nugget

6+ lb placer nugget found with a metal detector, later sold for about $400,000

Beautiful piece

Bongo Jim
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That's a biggun

Nice nugget! My buddy has 100 acres in Butte County. I've got 3 detectors...I think a road trip is in my future.

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Under Water...

http://www.france24.com/en/20150218-divers-find-record-trove-gold-coins-mediterranean/

Divers find record trove of gold coins in Mediterranean...

Scuba divers have discovered the largest trove of gold coins ever found off Israel's Mediterranean coast -- about 2,000 pieces dating back more than 1,000 years, the country's antiquities authority said Tuesday.

"The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbour in Caesarea," the authority said in a statement.

It was by pure chance that members of a diving club in the Roman-era port had come across the coins, which the authority said weighed nine kilograms (almost 20 pounds) but described as "priceless".

© Israel Antiquities Authority/AFP | A handout picture released by Israel's Antiquities Authority shows some of the gold coins recently found on the seabed in the ancient harbour in Caesarea

erewenguy
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Ha - you beat me to it Boswell

Oh well, a little more info:

“There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected.”

Sharvit suggested that the treasure trove of coins might have been intended to pay the members of the Fatimid military garrison stationed at Caesarea, Israel. There are also other theories as the origins of the coins. Sharvit said that the coins could have belonged to a sunken merchant ship.

“The coins are in excellent state of preservation, and despite the fact they were at the bottom of the sea for about a thousand years, they did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention,” said Robert Cole, an expert numismaticist – someone who studies currency – with the antiquities authority.

The five divers have been called “model citizens” by the antiquities organization. Had the divers removed the objects from their location or tried to sell them, they could have faced a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The oldest of the coins is a quarter dinar that was minted in Palermo, Sicily during the second half of the ninth century. The majority of the coins can be traced back to the Faimid caliphs, Al-Ḥākim and his son Al-Ẓāhir who were alive in during the eleventh century. These coins were minted in Egypt and North Africa.

“There is no doubt that the discovery of the impressive treasure highlights the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with rich history and cultural heritage,” stated the Caesarea Development Company and Nature and Parks Authority...

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/02/17/largest-treasure-gold-coins-found-in-israel-unearthed-from-ancient-harbor/

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Pure chance: Scuba divers

Pure chance: Scuba divers (left) thought they were 'toy coins' initially before experts confirmed it was gold. The 2,000 pieces are now property of the state with no finder's fee

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2957563/Priceless-trove-2-000-gold-coins-used-10th-Century-Caliphate-ruled-Middle-East-coast-Israel.html

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