Last week,a 12-member team of the Archaeological Survey of India began to excavate the ruins of a fort in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh,soon after a seer had a dream that 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried there. As these examples show,gold draws many a treasure hunt:
Oak Island in Nova Scotia is home to a huge,mysterious hole nicknamed the Money Pit. First discovered in 1795,the cryptic Pit is the site of the worlds longest-running treasure hunt. Rumoured riches in the 60-metre deep hole include Captain Kidds (a Scottish captain and pirate who was executed in 1701) stash,the lost jewels of Marie Antoinette,documents proving the real identity of Shakespeare and the Holy Grail. The Pit was first discovered in 1795 by 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis. He found a layer of flagstones and layers of logs every 10 feet. The Onslow Company continued digging till eight years later and at 40 feet,they found a stone with markings which read 40 feet below two million pounds is buried. The Pit itself is protected by a series of ingenious traps. As treasure hunters have attempted to recover the bounty from the Money Pit,cleverly engineered flood tunnels have flooded the shaft with sea water.
Author Kit Williams sparked a treasure hunt when he wrote about an 18-carat gold-,jewel-encrusted hare buried somewhere in Britain in his lavishly illustrated childrens book Masquerade. The 1979 book is about a love affair between the Moon and the Sun,and Jack Hare,their four-legged go-between who carried a treasure from one to the other,but lost it in transit. The reader is left to find the location. Williams crafted a hare from 18-carat gold and jewels in the form of a large filigree pendant on a segmented chain and proceeded it to bury it at a secret location in 1979. The riddle was finally solved by two Manchester teachers in 1982,but the amulet had already been claimed by a searcher who had been given the approximate location in Ampthill Park,Bedfordshire,by Williamss former girlfriend. The hare was later bought by a mystery buyer for £31,900 at a Sothebys auction in 1988. Williams tried to buy it,but was outbid.
The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found. Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich,near Lichfield,it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character. The artefacts have tentatively been dated to the seventh or eighth centuries,placing the origin in the time of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Terry Herbert discovered the gold artefacts in July 2009. Excavation work was funded by English Heritage. The discovery was publicly announced on September 24,2009,attracting worldwide attention. The hoard was valued at £3.285 million and has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.
In 2011,David Crisp,a 63-year old hospital chef,located 52,503 Roman coins from the third century in a field near Frome,Somerset,held in a metal jar weighing 160 kg. All but five are made of a copper alloy which gives them a greenish tinge. The other five are silver denarii of the emperor Carausius,an upstart from the Netherlands who led a revolt against Rome and declared himself emperor of Britain and northern Gaul (France). The haul is worth around £250,000.
In September 2013,a family of Florida treasure hunters discovered an estimated $300,000 worth of gold coins and chains off the coast of Fort Pierce. Rich Schmitt and wife Lisa along with their grown children uncovered the sunken treasure 150 yards offshore,including 64 feet of thin gold chains,five gold coins and a gold ring. The treasure came from the wreckage of a convoy of 11 ships that were destroyed in a hurricane in 1715 while en route from Havana to Spain. The 1977 film The Deep and the 2008 film Fools Gold were based on the wreckage. According to the ships manifest,$400 million worth of treasure was on board and so far only $175 million has been found.
On September 6,1622,the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha the rear ship in a treasure fleet heading back to Spain from the New World was caught in a vicious hurricane,sinking in the coral shallows near the Florida Keys. An enormous cargo of gold,silver and precious gems was lost. In 1985,US treasure hunter Mel Fishers 16-year quest finally paid of. A trove of buried loot valued at around $500 million was recovered 56 km off the coast of Key West. According to the original manifest,17 tonnes of silver bars,1,28,000 coins,27 kg of emeralds and about 35 boxes of church gold were on the ship. Fishers company now offers adventure packages to certified scuba divers. People have found coins,old weapons,silverware and pottery.
South Africa/Atlantic Ocean
In 2011,AngloGold Ashanti and De Beers,two of the worlds largest metals and minerals mining companies,began searching for gold deposits under the Atlantic Sea off South Africa. So far the two companies have spent close to $40 million. De Beers secured rights over vast tracts of seabed and used its ship to dredge the sea floor. As the venture did not prove to be viable,interest in the project has begun to wane. South Africa is the worlds third largest producer of gold.