Ten Incredible Lost Treasures of the World
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Our planet is full of things that have been lost over time, never to be recovered. We might think that because of satellites, the internet, and that everyone has a camera on them at all times, it would be impossible to lose something for good these days. But we’d be wrong.
Just look at MH370, the Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing. That was an entire plane, and it simply vanished. The planet is much bigger than we realize, and there’s plenty of places for things to hide. Over the years, we’ve had some incredible artefacts and treasures get stolen, or lost, and never found again.
Let’s explore some of the most incredible lost treasures our planet is hiding.
Blackbeard is undoubtedly one of the most famous pirates. Everyone knows what his name means.
His ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is thought to have been discovered in the waters around North Carolina in 1996, but there’s no sign of his treasure. The shipwreck doesn’t bear the name, but after over 200 years underwater, it’s doubtful there would be any definite signs of its heritage.
Incredible items on board include corroded canons, a signal gun, turtle bones, and an ornate sword hilt. But no treasure aside from some gold dust. The ship ran aground on the sandbars of North Carolina and was a slow and steady event. That means Blackbeard and his crew had plenty of time to offload their treasure.
In his time as a pirate, Blackbeard supposedly accumulated a large quantity of gold and loot. But he hid it somewhere only ‘he and the devil would know’. Some treasure hunters theorize it’s on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, one of his favorite spots. But that seems obvious, and people have found no trace of treasure on the small island.
The Honjo Masamune
Not all missing treasure has to be gold or silver. Gorō Nyüdō Masamune was a renowned swordsmith from the 13th century. He goes down in history as Japan’s greatest swordsmith.
His swords were known for their excellent quality. He embedded martensitic crystals in a pearlite matrix and they were rumored to have a point that was one atom thick. His technique is still visible in the wavy line you can see along the edge of the blade.
The most famous sword he made was the Honjo Masamune which was owned by the Tokugawa family, who held power at the time.
After WW2 ended and Japan was making reparations, the Allies ordered them to give up all their weapons. That included their swords. Many noble Japanese families had kept swords as heirlooms of their samurai ancestors, and they had been passed down from generation to generation. This demand rightfully outraged them.
At that point, the Honjo Masamune was in the hands of Tokugawa Iemasa. He did what he believed was honorable and hand over all his weapons. He took all his family’s swords to the Mejiro police station in December 1945, including the Honjo Masamune.
After getting to the police station, the sword disappeared.
Rumor has it the Americans melted down the swords or threw them into Tokyo Bay, as they didn’t understand the significance. Once they did, the swords went home with US soldiers and they kept some, others sold on to collectors.
However, the fate of the Honjo Masamune is unknown. It was never seen again.
The Amber Room
The fate of The Amber Room is one of the world’s modern mysteries. The Amber Room was an opulent room made of amber panels decorated with precious jewels by German sculptor Andreas Schülter. It first lived at Berlin City Palace, before being moved to St. Petersburg after being given as a gift to Peter the Great. They kept it in the Catherine Palace, just outside the city.
The Amber Room was one of Russia’s most prized possessions, and was often referred to as The Eighth Wonder of the World.
During WW2, German armed forces closed in on St. Petersburg (now called Leningrad) and they planned to deconstruct the room and transport it to East Russia. But the amber was too fragile and would have broken if they’d taken it apart. Instead, they tried to hide it under wallpaper.
Hitler wanted The Amber Room back on German soil. As far as he was concerned, a German made it and ought to be in the motherland. They knew what they were looking for. The Nazi soldiers saw through the trick, deconstructed the room and packed it into crates for Germany.
They successfully reconstructed it at Königsberg Castle, where it remained for two years. But as the war ended and Allied forces descended on Germany, they destroyed Königsberg’s historic areas, including the castle museum. It’s unknown whether the German army deconstructed it and hide it, or if it was destroyed in the shelling.
Either way, The Amber Room hasn’t been seen since WW2.
The Oak Island Money Pit
In 1795, a teenager called Daniel McGinnis stumbled upon what appeared to be a circular depression in the ground on Oak Island. The oak trees surrounding the depression had been cut down, and he believed that there was something to be found under the soil.
That belief has stretched into one of the most expensive treasure hunts in the world. Daniel returned with a few friends, and they dug. Every so often, they would find indications something was under the soil. First there was a flagstone rock, then timber slats, and every time they thought they’d found treasure, the boys would face nothing but air.
Other people got involved, and the Onslow Company started an excavation. At 90 feet, they found a stone tablet with symbols inscribed on it. However, at 98 feet after discovering another timber level, they finished for the day. When they returned, the hole had filled with water.
It appeared to be self-flooding, and they enlisted the help of another company who installed a water pump to clear the hole. When the pump failed, they dug another hole next to the pit to bypass the water trap. This one filled up with water at 12 feet.
In the 1860s, James Leitchi, a Languages Professor at Dalhousie University, claimed to have decoded the tablet and translated it to: “Forty Feet Below, Two Million Pounds are Buried”. This translation renewed excitement in the Oak Island Money Pit, and workers returned to excavate.
Several people died in their quest for the great treasure supposedly buried on Oak Island. In 1861, a boiler exploded, killing one person and injuring a few more. In 1965, the Restall family, who lived near the pit, continued to dig. They were sure they would find the treasure that inhabited Oak Island. Robert Restall looked over the edge of the pit and fell unconscious to noxious fumes coming out of it.
Unfortunately, he fell in. His son Bobbie soon followed, running over to help and two other workers tried to help too, only to meet the same fate.
Today, the pit remains a mystery. Is there untold treasure underneath the layers of earth? There are rumors of it being pirate treasure, or linked to Christianity, or the Knights Templar, or the Freemasons. People whisper it could have the Holy Grail, or Captain Kidd’s treasure.
But as it stands, we do not know what’s at the bottom of Oak Island.
Montezuma’s Lost Treasure
This legendary treasure is rumored to be buried somewhere in southwest USA or Mexico.
Montezuma II was the last Aztec emperor who was allegedly so wealthy, he had rooms filled with precious stones, gold and treasures.
When Spanish colonizers came to Mexico and colonized the region, they were invited into the magnificent Aztec city of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City). Hernán Cortés, the leader of the Spanish army, soon took Montezuma captive as part of their invasion around Mexico.
In June 1520, Cortés had to leave Tenochtitlan for other duties. It’s not strictly known what happened after that, but it’s thought the people he left in charge slaughtered Aztec nobles, causing a war in the city. When Cortés came back at the end of June, his army was engaged in battle with the Aztec locals.
The Spanish army fled on June 30, taking large amounts of the treasure with them. The Aztecs weren’t happy and attacked the soldiers, leaving hundreds dead. In Spanish, it’s referred to as La Noche Triste–The Night of Sorrow.
After that, Montezuma’s treasure went missing. People say it was thrown in Lake Texcoco or was loaded onto Spanish ships and sunk. Rumors fly it could be buried in Utah, or Arizona, and treasure hunters have gone looking for it. People say Aztec warriors snuck it out of Tenochtitlan and hid it elsewhere, burying Montezuma while they did.
In 1981, a gold bar was found in Mexico City when a bank was being built and was confirmed to be part of Montezuma’s stash. The exciting revelation keeps people interested, hoping they stumble upon the rest of his massive hoard, wherever it may be.
The Missing Seal
When China was united at the start of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC, a piece of jade was turned into the Imperial seal. It had the words ‘having received the mandate from heaven, may the emperor lead a long and prosperous life’ carved into it, with dragons circling round the words.
They used jade because of its symbolism in ancient China of inner beauty. Over generations, they passed the seal down from emperor to emperor. It carried on through the Han Dynasty, the Wei Dynasty, and was used for over 1000 years. It was referred to as the ‘Jade Seal Passed Through the Realm’.
Over those 1000 years, they lost the seal several times. Emperor Qinshihuang was said to have thrown it into Dongting Lake, as a measure to ensure a smooth passage. It was supposedly returned by a farmer who found it eight years later. It vanished again when Emperor Tang burned down his palace, and was found 150 years later by another farmer.
The seal supposedly disappeared for good during the Yuan Dynasty of 1271-1368. Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang looked for it all over China, and Mongolia and couldn’t find it. The Heirloom Imperial Seal was gone.
In recent years, ancient seals have been found all over China, but none have been confirmed as the historic Imperial seal. Its ultimate resting place is still unknown.
The Copper Scroll
The Copper Scroll is just one of many Dead Sea Scrolls recovered in North Palestine in 1946-1952. Most of the scrolls were parchment, but this scroll features detailed inscriptions carved onto a copper plate. People believe it could lead to a vast treasure trove of gold and silver buried across Jerusalem thousands of years ago.
The scroll was found in Qumran cave three and is written in an ancient language like Mishnaic or biblical Hebrew. The scroll itself now sits at the Jordan Museum in Amman, Jordon. But they have never found the treasure it reportedly leads to.
When translated, the scroll appears to leave people to 60 different treasure sites, where it’s theorized Jewish authorities hid gold and silver from Romans when they sacked the Second Temple in 70 AD.
However, in order to throw people off, the scroll uses fake names for the treasure locations, making it hard to decipher and find. The scroll also indicates how much treasure they buried in each spot and how deep.
However, the topography of the area has changed significantly in 1000 years, so none of it has ever been found. Other historians believe the scroll isn’t a reliable source, and the temple’s treasures were destroyed.
The Knights Templar Treasure
At its peak, the Knights Templar was allegedly one of the most influential organizations on the planet. They operated a banking system across Europe and the Middle East, captured loot from other organizations, and received donations from others. Giving gifts to the Knights Templar was thought to benefit the soul, which was extremely important during the years the Knights Templar ran from.
Operating from 1119 to 1312, they liaised with royals, managed businesses, and held money and treasures for nobility. They also had plenty of their own bases across the Middle East and Europe, and were integrated into daily life. But it wasn’t to last.
During the crusades, public opinion on the Templar knights turned. In 1307, the Knights Templar were hunted down, arrested, and executed because of rumors of secret rituals and homosexual practices.
King Philip IV of France owed a great debt to the Templars after they funded his war against England, and he used the rumors to his advantage. If there were no more Templars, he didn’t need to pay back his debt.
However, their immense wealth stores were never found. During the trials, it came to light the Grand masters had been tipped off about upcoming arrests and had smuggled their treasure stash out of Paris before sending it to sea.
There are rumors the treasure is at the bottom of the Oak Island Money Pit, or made its way to Scotland.
The Lost Dutchman Mine
One of the biggest legends in America is the supposed Lost Dutchman Mine, a rumored mine rich with gold that also is apparently cursed, meaning people who go looking for it often end up missing or dead.
It all started when the Spanish came over to colonize America. They were determined to find gold, and found out there may be some in the Superstition Mountains. It was sacred ground to the Apache tribes in the area, and the Apache warned them there would be consequences if they trespassed. They referred to the mountain as the ‘devil’s playground’.
The Spanish tried anyway. On their quests, men would vanish and reappear dead and mutilated. They never found the gold and ended up fleeing, calling it Monte Superstition.
The entire area was given to a Mexican Don Miguel Peralta as a grant. The Peralta family regularly mined Arizona for silver and gold, eventually returning to the mountains in 1846. They found gold and packed up their wagons to head back to Mexico in the winter of 1847.
The Apache weren’t pleased, and planned to ambush the family. Upon hearing this news, the Peralta’s hid the entrance to the mine, and head home. But they were attacked and killed. People heard of the massacre and gold prospectors came to the area hoping to find both the mine and the scattered gold. Some reportedly found saddles with $37,000 gold inside.
After that, the Peraltas avoided the mine for 16 years, but eventually went back with 400 men. The Apache killed them all bar one person, who made it back to tell the horrific story. Nobody dared go near the mountains after that and the location was lost.
The next man to come across the mine was Doctor Thorne. He won the favor of the Apache by treating their sick and injured. As a thank you, they blindfolded him and led him up the mountain to the mine, let him take as much as he could carry, and blindfolded him for the trip back down.
However, later he reportedly returned with friends and found the mine. But the Apache killed them when they left.
The tales of treasure hunters going looking for gold and turning up dead on the Superstition Mountains are endless, and the mine’s location is still lost to this day.
King John of England’s Jewels
King John of England, who reigned from 1199 to 1216, isn’t remembered fondly in history. In fact, his nickname is Bad King John. He signed the Magna Carta, lost the English empire in the north of France, and raised high taxes in England to cover the costs of getting the French territories back.
He also argued with the pope in 1209 and was excommunicated, fought a rebellion from his own barons, and ended up in a civil war in England. To add further insult, he lost the crown jewels, too.
In 1216, when England was in the middle of a civil war, he traveled west. He had already contracted dysentery when they crossed The Wash, a large estuary in East Anglia, England. As they tried to cross, the wagons got stuck in the marshes and he lost several packhorses, wagons and their contents–including the crown jewels.
As records weren’t commonplace back then, it’s difficult to confirm exactly what the Crown Jewels of the time were. Which makes it even more difficult to find it when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
They’ve never been found, despite repeated attempts. King John died of his dysentery shortly after.
Our planet is filled with wonderful treasures, lost and waiting to be discovered. These ten items are just a few on the never-ending list of riches and valuables out there. Myths and legends will probably follow these items until they’re eventually found–if they still exist, or existed in the first place.
Are you a treasure hunter, interested in finding something lost? Or are you a collector looking for something to add to your own hoard? Then you might want to check out our live streaming Historic Metals auctions. You just might find some treasure of your own!