At first glance, the desert might be a place where nothing happens and where one can get lost in the endless sand dunes. But some of the world's most exciting treasures have been found in the desert. It's almost as if the universe is testing us by putting the most valuable things in the world in the most inhospitable areas. Only the brave the adventurous are capable of uncovering these treasures hidden deep in the sun-baked lands of the hottest deserts in the world. But those who dare succeed, as this article definitely proves.
Of course, not all treasures are what we expect. Some of the most valuable things on Earth are priceless because of their sentimental value. There have been plenty of ancient relics found in the desert that are worthless to some, but are priceless to scholars and those that want to learn more about ancient civilizations. There are even certain discoveries made in deserts around the world that teach us more about other planets, or how to cure certain ailments. Deserts are in many ways magical places, and they hold all sorts of secrets for those willing to explore.
20 A Prada Store In The Middle Of Nowhere
One thing you definitely wouldn't expect to find in the middle of a desert is a Prada store. The luxury fashion brand is famous for being one of the most high-end and expensive labels in the world, and those passing by must have had trouble believing their eyes when they saw this lone shop in the middle of nowhere. It's located in a desert in Texas, and it's not an actual store, per se. It's actually technically an art instalment, although it is stocked with real Prada merchandise. These "treasures" were actually robbed only a day after this so-called sculpture was installed.
19 A Stash Of Rare Video Games
For some strange, unknown reason, a huge stash of rare Atari games were found buried in the middle of a New Mexico Desert. This was all the way back in 1980, and it was due to financial troubles for the Atari company. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of the games found in this video game stash were copies of the E.T. video game, which is widely considered the worst video game ever made. As a result of its poor quality, most of the copies made were never sold, leading to the eventual decision by Atari to bury the unsold copies. But today, many people consider these video games to be rare collector's items. You know what they say – one man's garbage is another hipster's treasure.
18 A Fully Functioning Swimming Pool
Artists seem to have a fondness for building strange art installations and sculptures in the middle of the desert, and one example of that is a technologically advanced swimming pool located somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert. This was built by an Austrian artist, and the pool is actually incredibly advanced, with cool water and all the features you would expect from a pool in a millionaire's mansion. This might not be a treasure per se, but can you think of anything a lone desert wanderer would value more than a cool swimming pool on a hot day?
17 Libyan Glass – The Rarest Mineral Known To Man
Now let's get to the real treasure. In the Deserts of Libya, there exists a lone site where one of the rarest minerals know to man can be found. This is known as Libyan glass, and it's one of the true gems of the desert. While gold, silver, and even diamonds are pretty common as far as geology is concerned, Libyan glass is extremely rare. This is generally classified as Silica glass, and it can be formed naturally by lightning strikes, volcanic activity, or meteor strikes. But the strange thing is that no one really knows how this glass was formed, and it's one of the biggest mysteries of the scientific world. The Ancient Egyptians used it for jewelry, as they recognized its value. There are many strange theories about how this glass was formed.
16 An Entire Fleet Of Planes
Jet Fighter planes are some of the most expensive tools of military hardware known to man. Although Jet Fighters can cost almost a hundred million dollars to make today, they can also be taken down easily. Jet fighter technology has been steadily increasing over the years, but even a few decades ago there were very advanced planes in service. During the invasion of Iraq, the US forces unearthed perhaps one of the most valuable treasures found in any desert – an entire fleet of advanced MiG Fighter Jets that were hidden.
15 The Dead Sea Scrolls
Some treasures are not valuable because of their gold coins or their precious gemstones, but rather their value to humanity as a whole. Sometimes, historical discoveries are priceless, and these prove to be the most valuable treasures ever found in the desert. The Dead Sea Scrolls might have been one of the most important "treasures" ever found in the desert, and these were found in cave systems in Israel. The parchments, which are thousands of years old, contain some of the earliest passages of text which are also found in the Hebrew Bible and other notable religious texts. To say that the Dead Sea Scrolls are priceless would be a massive understatement.
14 Cylinder Seals
Speaking of ancient antiquities, there are plenty of priceless items that have found their way onto the black market, and these have also been found in the deserts of the Middle East. Some of the most popular items for collectors to buy on the black market are cylinder seals. These beautiful cylinders have amazing designs on them, and they can create beautiful pictures when rolled onto clay. In the ancient times of the Sumerians and the Mesopotamians, these cylinder seals were seen as royal seals or stamps, and they were worn on the neck, like jewelry. As The New York Times points out, the market for cylinder seals is worth millions of dollars, and the black market for these items is rampant.
13 Boron Or Borax
Aside from specific treasures found in the desert, there are plenty of minerals that can be found in these dry locations that are worth a pretty penny. According to the United States Geological Survey, one of the most valuable minerals we can find in a desert is Boron, which is made from borax found in desert locations such as Searles Lake in California. Boron is an important ingredient for making glass, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and many other products. According to the USGS, this means that the total value of borax extracted from Searles Lake alone is worth well over $1 billion. There are those that believe the borax trade is far more profitable than gold mining.
12 Gold Deposits
Of course, we just had to mention gold, which is a very valuable mineral found buried in deserts all over the globe. The Gold Rush may have ended, but there are still plenty of Gold Mines that are very much active in these dry locations all over the globe. Gold is primarily found in large quantities in the Australian Deserts, which are also known as "the Outback," but gold is also found in deserts across the United States as well, and people can still find gold deposits in the middle of the deserts today if they're lucky enough.
11 Silver Deposits
Silver is not quite as valuable as gold, but it's definitely a precious metal and one that has been mined pretty extensively in desert regions. Back in 1859, a massive silver deposit was discovered in Nevada, which made the United States extremely rich. It yielded a total of $225 million worth of silver, which was an enormous sum back them. It helped make America rich, and it also ensured that America was the number one producer of silver, until they were overtaken Mexico and Peru.
Although uranium is much more common than gold and even silver, it's also pretty hard to find concentrations which are worth extracting. Uranium is of course something which previously held almost no value, but in the current age of technology it is a very valuable mineral. Uranium is found in many deserts around the world, including those in Australia, the United States and the Sahara Desert. Uranium is of course used to create nuclear energy, but also things such as submarines.
9 One Of The Most Valuable Coins Ever Found
In 2010, researchers in Israel announced they had found the heaviest and most valuable coin ever discovered in their country, according to VOA News, The coin is attributed to the Ancient Egyptian ruler of Ptolemy IV, and it is 2,200 years old. Today, we consider a coin to represent a small amount of money, but this was worth an incredible sum, even in the days of Ptolemy. According to the researchers, this single coin would represent about half a year's salary – in a single coin. It's basically the equivalent of a $10,000 bill, and it was probably minted specially as a gift or a symbolic gesture.
8 An Impressive Ancient Treasure Stash In Israel
In 2015, a group of Israeli cave explorers stumbled upon a small collection of Ancient Greece treasures. In this small stash were two silver coins, jewelry, and some type of necklace. These items are more than 2,000 years old, and they are all priceless. The silver coins depict the ancient Greek god Zeus, and they are thought to be from the reign of Alexander The Great. As CNN notes, the most surprising thing about this find is the fact that all the items are in extremely good condition.
7 A Ship Full Of Gold
In 2015, Miners in Namibia found something truly spectacular in one of the country's deserts. Although these miners were looking for diamonds when they drained a huge lagoon, they found something much more valuable – a 500-year-old shipwreck filled with gold coins. What was the value of all those gold coins, you ask? A cool $13 million, to be exact. The coins and everything in the ship dated back to 1535, and it was a vessel belonging to the King Of Portugal at the time, according to Fox News.
6 A $675,000 Opal Stone
Opal is a beautiful stone known for its colorful qualities and its ability to change colors depending on the light, and it's commonly used in all kinds of different jewelry. But one opal gives all the others a run for its money, and this is the most valuable opal in history – the "Fire Of Australia. According to CNN, this stone is worth about $675,000, and it's one of Australia's rarest treasures. Pretty much all opal stones are found in Australia, and this one in particular was found in a small desert town more than 60 years ago.
5 Microorganisms That Could Represent A Cure
Sometimes the most valuable things found in the desert are not those that will make us wealthy or rich, but things that will save lives and improve the health of future generations. One such example of this was a thrilling discovery in Chile's Atacama desert, where some potentially life-saving microorganisms were found. One of the strains of microorganisms could be used to treat the human immunodeficiency virus, as The Hindu Business Line reveals. This particular strain is known to inhibit a certain enzyme that allows the strain to reproduce itself in the human body.
4 Rare Buddhist Treasures Found In The Gobi Desert
In 2009, a treasure trove of Ancient Buddhist artifacts were found in the Gobi Desert of China, where they had been hidden for more than 70 years. The artifacts are actually much older than 70 years, but they had been hidden away during the purge of Mongolia, where Buddhist treasures and items were tarnished. The treasures include statues, manuscripts, and sculptures, many of which have ended up in museums. Many other caches of Buddhist treasures remain hidden across the Gobi Desert, according to BBC News.
3 The Rosetta Stone Remains A True Desert Treasure
The Rosetta Stone is perhaps one of the most important treasures ever found in the desert, and this discovery happened many years ago, during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte's expansion into ancient Egypt centuries ago. Although the rock itself is not valuable, the writing on this piece of Granodiorite proved to be instrumental in cracking the code of the Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Before people examined this stone closely, no one knew what the Ancient Egyptians were trying to say in their many writings left on temple walls. The Rosetta Stone allowed us to suddenly absorb centuries of valuable information left behind by one of the most advanced ancient societies.
2 The Treasures Of Timbuktu
One of the greatest treasures ever found in the desert was not a specific item, but an entire city. Timbuktu is one of the most amazing ancient cities in the world, and definitely one of the most interesting ancient cities in Africa. Located in Mali, Timbuktu was a city of legend in the medieval period, and traders and scholars would come from afar to see its sights. Although stories were told of this city's treasures, perhaps the real treasure was its amazing library, filled with ancient manuscripts. These manuscripts have been at risk numerous times, almost tarnished in many cases, as The Economist notes. Great care went into protecting the many texts from being captured.
1 A Rare Meteor From Mars
Another very different kind of treasure found in the desert was a very rare type of meteor, which was actually a piece of crust from the planet Mars. As quoted by Huffington Post, the lead author, named Munir Humayun, revealed, “I will liken this to opening a treasure chest — it may take a while before we find the best treasures, but treasures aplenty lurk in this meteorite.” He calls it a treasure because it will lead to many discoveries about Mars, mostly its early development and birth. It was found in the Sahara Desert.