News Article:

FOUND: Ancient Treasures

By Ettore and Diana Nannetti

Treasure - the word that makes a man's pulse run wild! We've dreamt about treasure as kids growing up and we still dream about it as adults. For some lucky people overseas, their childhood dreams of finding treasure have turned into a reality.

One of these fortunate individuals was a Soviet man from Moscow. While digging around an old barn in his back yard, on his first wedding anniversary, he came up with an anniversary present better than he could have imagined. The official Tass news agency reported that Alexander Mironov of Dazan, a Volga River city, dug up a clay pot filled with precious stones and about 1,000 18th century coins. Mironov and his wife, Tatyana, turned the treasure into the government and received a 25% reward. Still a nice find.

A small fortune in jewels and currency was found by Edward Nosevich, also a Soviet, while he was cleaning out his cowshed. Nosevich discovered 275 gold rubles minted before the 1917 Russian revolution, 74 wedding rings, two silver ingots and a variety of gold jewelry. He also found $1,675 in U.S. currency and some Canadian and German money. The find was turned over to the Soviet Ministry.

In Burgos, Spain, while playing in his own backyard, Julio Pepe, found a 200-year-old chest. It was found to contain gold, silver, pearls, gold figurines, as well as many other valuable items. The chest, which weighed many hundreds of pounds is estimated to contain well over $1 million worth of treasure. How it happened to end up in that particular place is anyone's guess, but it was probably buried by a pirate in the 1700s. In those days, Spain was heavily populated by pirates, one of whom probably died before he had a chance to recover this valuable chest.

Manfredonia, the long-lost city in central Sicily, was one of the richest Greek colonies until it fell into Roman hands during the first Punic War between Rome and Chartage. The Romans conquered it in 212 B.C., looted it, and sold it inhabitants into slavery. After 1,000 years, Morgantina was lost to history in the 1st century A.D. and was eventually covered by a protective layer of soil. Since then, the farmer's plow has been making incredible discoveries on a somewhat regular basis. But it was not until recently that an archaeological excavation was undertaken, and about 20% of the total site fenced off and earmarked for excavation, the other 80% of the site being farms and pastures.

Here, metal detectors have been put to good use, facilitating the discovery of huge numbers of artifacts, coins and jewelry. Reportedly, some of these coins are commanding up to $1,000 each, and there are plenty of them being found. Even the less valuable ones are still worth considerable amounts of money. Who knows what a metal detector will turn up next a Morgantina?

In Amiens, France, a construction crew, while bulldozing a factory site, uncovered a cache of about 8,000 silver and copper Roman coins dating from the 3rd century A.D. The coins were in perfect condition, almost 2,000 years after they were buried in two jars at the time of barbarian invasions of northern France. It is believed that this treasure had been buried by Gallo-Roman merchants fearing invading Franks and Alemanni. The coins and jars were displayed in the museum at Abbeville, the nearest town to the construction site in the village of Rue north of Paris.

An unnamed Portuguese construction worker recently unearthed 4.4 pounds of fold coins some 200 years old. The find came about as he was demolishing a decaying building in the village square in Sedium, northeastern Portugal. Fellow workers shortly, thereafter, located numerous other coins bearing the image of Queen Mary II and her consort Peter III, who ruled Portugal at the end of the 18th century.

In Aldington, Kent, England, 13-year-old Andrew Wagar of Clap Hill discovered an ancient seal in some loose earth alongside his house. He thought it was a chess piece, but it was later identified by an archaeologist as an early medieval seal dating from about 1200 and fashioned from bronze. The seal had a carving depicting a stag's head, with a Latin inscription around it.

In the 1640s, the civil war between King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell caused many people to bury or otherwise hide much of their valuables. One of these caches was found recently when two men were repairing a shed at Castle Farm near Thirsk, England. The coins were housed in a crock buried by unknown persons, a total of 30 gold coins and 1,470 silver coins. The oldest coins were dated 1560 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Three men discovered 106 silver coins on the banks of the River Ouse at the Moor Monkton near York, England. The site was heavily used 12th century track leading to York, and it is supposed that the coins may have been stolen and hidden. All were minted between 1180 and 1184. A metal detector located 105 more coins in the next four days. The British Museum is expected to purchase the coins, with the three treasure hunters receiving the current value of the coins, which is expected to be notable. Since the original discovery, six more coins and a gold reign were also recovered. Is there more?

An English detectorist, Steven Hering, recently located a very valuable silver coin there. So valuable in fact, that it was auctioned by Christie's and purchased by a collector for $12,440. The coin, struck in the name of Wulfred Archbishop of Canterbury, (805 to 832) is the finest of its kind.

A treasure trove of about 1,000 items was discovered in a cave in Jerusalem. Among a wealth of jewelry and pottery, two silver charms were found bearing the oldest biblical inscriptions ever found. The inscriptions shed new light on life in Jerusalem, during the first Jewish Kingdom, 2,600 years ago. Since archaeologists began searching the city's ancient past, 120 years ago, this was the largest collection ever found in Jerusalem.

Near the town of Akhim, Egypt, while two peasants were digging for water, the ground under their feet suddenly gave way. They plunged into an underground cavity which turned out to be a lost tomb. The secret chamber held many thousands of gold coins and numerous other valuables dating to about 1500 B.C. The two men immediately began secretly marketing the coins, some in small lots and some individually. The sudden appearance on the market of all these gold coins dating to the reign of King Thothmes, 1501-14448 B.C., aroused the curiosity of authorities who quickly traced the coins back to the two peasants and arrested them.

Egyptian government sources recently announced the discovery of 280 gold coins buried 1,300 years ago under a monk's cell in two clay jars, at Diar al_Abaid. The coins date from the 6th and 7th centuries, the Byzantine period that bridged early Christianity and Islam. The coins bear the likeness of Byzantine Emperors Justinian I, Phocas and Heraclius and were minted in Constantinople, present day Istanbul, Turkey.

A clay pot containing over 1,000 silver coins has recently been dug up in southern Iran. The coins were minted in the 14th century and bear Islamic writing and the name of Persian Kind Shahshoja, who ruled for 26 years.

In Poland, the spade of a construction worker recently turned up more than 1,000 gold coins and a jewel encrusted crown housed in a medieval pot. The 14th century treasure coins were minted in Gdansk and Prague apparently in 1340s, when the black plague ravaged Europe. The discovery took place in Sroda Slaska and was worth over $7 million. Once the discovery was made known, the public invaded the area, walking away with dozens of previously undiscovered gold coins, most of them recovered later by authorities, who lost no time in conducting a house-to-house search.

Raul Hurtado Hernadez, a poor Mexican fisherman, recently found more than fish in the coastal waters of Mexico. His catch turned out to be 61 gold bars and numerous ancient gold ornaments. In a hast for wealth, he sold the whole thing to a Vera Cruz jeweler who paid him the measly sum of $5,680. As it turns out, the gold by weight alone was worth a minimum of $50,000. The gold ornaments were worth probably much more, since they possibly date to the 1500s or earlier and are believed to be of Aztec origin. The gold bars and the Aztec artifacts are very likely the products of Cortez' pillage of the Aztec Empire and were probably on board on of the many ships sunk in the turbulent waters of the Gulf of Mexico, during the days of Spanish conquest. Unfortunately, neither the finder nor the jeweler got to enjoy their newfound money, since the ever-vigilant Mexican authorities took them into custody and confiscated the goods.

These stories are just a very small example of what is being constantly found overseas, since only a very small percentage of finds are ever made public. An Italian treasure hunter once told us, "For ever coin, for every artifact or piece of jewelry you hear about, many thousands are secretly dug and sold. There's a hungry market out there for such items, and we can hardly dig fast enough to keep up with the demand for coins and antiquities."

Ettore and Diana Nannetti have been involved in the treasure hunting field since 1971. They operate a distributorship in Brooklyn, NY.