Biggest Golden Treasures in History
The Golden Treasure of Panagyurishte - Bulgaria
Dated to 280-279 BC; Discovered on December 8, 1949
The Panagyurishte treasure, by far the richest and most brilliant gold hoard yet discovered is a masterpiece of Thracian workmanship. It consists of a phiale, an amphora and seven rhytons, all made of solid 24-carat gold. The treasure weighs a total of 6165.45 g (13.5 pounds) and is a part of a dinner set. That is arguably the single most valuable set of artifacts ever found on the territory of Bulgaria.
The bulk of the treasure consists of seven rhytons, which are often described as wine cups used by the Thracians. Three of the rhytons depict women (possibly Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, possibly Amazon warriors). Out of the other four, one depicts the Judgement of Paris, one has Theseus and Hercules performing feats of strength, and all are faced with the heads of stags, rams or goats.
The amphora is the most fascinating vessel in the set. Depicting seven warriors (possibly the seven kings from the Theban cycle, possibly seven Thracians outside the gates of a temple), it was used as a ceremonial vessel of peace. With a single entry point at the top and two libation holes (both embedded in Ethiopians’ heads), it was used to simultaneously pour wine into the phiales of two kings as a sign of peace. This had a practical implication as well, as drinking from the same sanctifying vessel eliminated the possibility that one king might poison the other.
The phiale, a shallow drinking bowl with a hemispherical divot in the middle, was the vessel that was actually brought to the drinker’s lips. The single phiale in the set is about 25 cm in diameter, and its bottom symbolizes the sun, ringed with 24 acorns (matching the crown of Seuthes III which consisted of acorns and oak leaves), and three concentric rings of 24 Ethiopian heads each used to ward off evil.
The phiale and the amphora share a set of weight symbols used in the ancient Marmara sea port of Lampsacus, where it is likely that the Thracians first had contact with African tribes.
Malagana Treasure – Colombia
Approximately dated to 300BC - 300AD; Discovered in 1992
Malagana, also known as the Malagana Treasure is an archaeological site of Colombia named after the sugarcane estate where it was accidentally discovered in 1992. During a few days after its discovery, the place was subject to a large-scale looting with a rough estimate of 4 tons of pre-Columbian artifacts illegally removed from the burial mounds.
A rescue archaeological mission was sent by the National Institute of Anthropology and History, led by archaeologist Marianne Cardale.
Some 150 pieces (golden masks, arm bands, jewelry and other precious relics) of Malagana gold were eventually acquired, with nearly 500 million pesos ($300,000 USD) paid to looters by the museum in an attempt to preserve the artifacts.
Archaeological excavations at the site established a previously unknown cultural complex, designated as Malagana-Sonsoid, that dates between 300 BC to 300 AD.
The Bactrian Gold - The hill of gold (Afghanistan)
Dated to: Around the 1st century BCE; Found: 1978
The treasure was found at Tillya Tepe and has become known as the Bactrian gold. Found after the excavation of six burial mounds in Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 gold ornaments were retrieved.
Treasures from the Tomb of the Lord of Sipan, Mochican Warrior Priest
Approximately dated to 50–300 AD; Discovered in 1987
The Lord of Sipan’s (El Señor de Sipán ) tomb – discovered in 1987 – is also known as "Huaca Rajada" and its tomb and artifacts (since stored in the impressive Royal Tombs Museum) are a highlight of the Moche Route in northern Peru.
The tomb of the Lord of Sipán is the most archaeologically engaging of the Moche burial sites – indeed, it is considered by some archaeologists to be the most important intact tomb found in the American Continent.
The 5 metre by 5 metre tombs was found with a wooden sarcophagus in the centre – the first of its type to be reported in the Americas. Within the coffin, lay the remains of a man dressed in full royal regalia, surrounded by a plethora of dedicatory offerings that were to accompany him in his afterlife. An analysis of his regalia and iconographic depictions found in his tomb, suggests that this man was a high ranking Moche warrior-priest and a pre-eminent ruler of the Lambayeque valley.
The elite leader was found adorned in gold, silver, and copper jewellery and ornaments, including an enormous crescent headdress with a plume of feathers, a face mask, several pectorals composed of hundreds of shell beads, necklaces, nose rings, ear rings, a gold and silver sceptre, banners of gilded metal sewn onto cotton cloth, and two backflaps, which are trapezoidal sheets of beaten gold that warriors wore attached to the back of their costumes. A total of 451 gold, silver, copper, textile, and feather objects were buried with the Lord of Sipán to accompany him in the afterlife.
In late 1988, another royal tomb was unearthed at a much deeper level in the funerary mound. The man within this tomb—buried about 300 years before the Lord of Sipan is known as the Old Lord of Sipan.
Hoard Of Hundreds Of Antique Gold Coins Uncovered In Walls Around Jerusalem National Park – Israel
Approximately dated to 600 AD; Discovered on December 11, 2008
A hoard of more than 250 gold coins was exposed December 11 in excavations in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park.
A British tourist volunteering at the dig discovered the trove on Sunday.
Accordingh Israelian Antiquities Authority the coins had likely been hidden in a niche in one of the building's walls.
The coins bear the image of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, who ruled between 610 and 641 A.D. He is depicted wearing military dress and holding a cross in his right hand.
The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found – England
The Staffordshire Hoard is dated to the 7th or 8th century AD; Discovered on July 5, 2009
It is a story familiar to many. On July 5, 2009, a metal-detectorist discovered what turned out to be the largest cache of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver yet found. It was in a Staffordshire field near Lichfield, ecclesiastical centre of the kingdom of Mercia. The hoard consists of around 4,000 fragments of fittings stripped from swords, seaxes, and other arms in the first half of the 7th century. Decorated mainly with gold (some of which may have come from Byzantine coins), some silver, and also garnets from south-east Asia and eastern Europe.
The Sroda Treasure (Poland)
Dated to: The late 12th century / the 13th century; Found: 1985–1988; Value: Approximately $120 million
That treasure was probably a property of Moses (a jewish banker), In 1348's in Wrocław he made a profitable loan transaction resulting in Bohemian King Charles IV of the House of Luxembourg depositing part of his collection of jewelery in exchange for financial support of his efforts to obtain Imperial crown. After several years, Moses left Srodka Slaska and never returned. He did not manage to take back the treasure buried in his home's basement, either.
Part of the treasure was discovered for the first time in 1985 when a clay jug filled with silver coins was found during the digs for a new office building. A totally reveal of that hidden treasure happens in May 1988 during the demolition of the adjacent tenement house.
The Ship of Gold (USA)
Ship-sunk: September, 1857; Found: 1988
SS Central America (as known as "The Ship of Gold") was carrying 13,600 kg of gold on his trip from Panamanian port of Colón to New York City when it sank amid a fierce storm in September, 1857 near coasts of South Carolina.
The ship was found in 1988, but then only 5 percents from the cargo is possible to be excavated. In 2014, an American company (Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.), which engages in the salvage of deep-water shipwrecks, starts re-excavation of the site. They have recovered more than 15,500 silver and gold coins and 45 gold bars from the shipwreck. The estimated value of the entire hoard is around 100-150 million dollars.
"Our Lady of Atocha", a Treasure Under the Sea – Florida, USA
Ship-sunk: September, 1622; Found on July 20, 1985
The Nuestra Senora de Atocha, or Our Lady of Atocha in English, was by far one of the most famous Spanish ships of all time (The ship itself was named after the parish of Atocha located in Madrid). Sadly, it sank on September 4th, 1622 in the Florida Keys.
The Atocha was carrying 24 tons of silver bullion in 1038 ingots, 180,00 pesos of silver coins, 582 copper ingots, 125 gold bars and discs, 350 chests of indigo, 525 bales of tobacco, 20 bronze cannon and 1,200 pounds of worked silverware at the time it was sunk.
Unlike other sunken ship stories this one entails a series of events that kept the ship from reaching its rendezvous point in Havana with the other vessels in the fleet. The first event was in fact the delay of departure as the vessel left its dock exactly six weeks past its original scheduled departure. Due to the delay the Atocha met head on with a hurricane on September 6th, 1622 when it was only 35 miles away from Key West near the Dry Tortugas. It was forced upon the coral reefs which severely damaged the hull of the Atocha. This damaged caused the Atocha to sink relatively quickly. Sadly, most everyone drowned and only five people(3 crew and 2 slaves) managed to be rescued.
The mission to find the Atocha and the treasure became a fixed idea of a chicken farmer turned deep-sea diver named Mel Fisher, who searched doggedly for the treasure for 16 years from 1969.
In 1973, three silver bars were found, and they matched the weights and tally numbers found on the Atocha’s manifest, which had been transcribed from the original in Seville.
In 1975, his son Dirk found five bronze cannon whose markings would clinch identification with the Atocha.
It was in July of 1985, when the Fisher family struck gold – they had found the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and its treasure hoard. Artifacts worth around half a billion dollars were brought to the surface, making it among the most valuable shipwrecks ever discovered. The artifacts from Atocha are now part of the Mel Fisher maritime Heritage society Museum's collection in Florida.