The kind of fantasy scenario that many of us dream of being in when we are young, the vast majority no longer think about stumbling across a great fortune by sheer happenstance as adults. However, the concept still holds enough sway that it has been the subject of many movies. That said, as fantastical as coming across a fortune may seem, there are still people throughout history that have done just that.
Reflecting on just how awesome it would be to suddenly come across a secret treasure got us wondering, what are the most grandiose discoveries that other people have made. After doing a little bit of research, we realized that there truly have been some unbelievable discoveries made over the years. Coming to that conclusion inspired us to put together this list of the twenty most valuable treasure troves found in real life.
In order for a treasure trove to be considered for inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to have been discovered to be made up of extremely valuable items. For the purpose of this list, it makes absolutely no difference what exactly the “treasure” consists of as long as it has value to a certain group of people. Of course, that means that the classic definition of buried treasure, gold, silver and jewelry, certainly applies. However, we also considered more modern ideas of treasure like paintings, collectibles and the like as long as they were discovered by someone that had not collected them in the first place.
20 The Preslav Treasure
Pieces that have their origins in between the third and seventh centuries, the Preslav Treasure was concealed in the vineyard of Castana for a very long time. Uncovered for the last time in 1978, when Preslav was first conquered in between 969 and 972 these amazing items were hidden away to keep them out of the hands of the victors. Made of an incredible amount of gold, silver, and bronze, all told there were more than one hundred seventy pieces that are divided up between those three categories.
19 The Cuerdale Hoard
The largest discovery of Viking silver that has ever been found outside of Russia, the Cuerdale Hoard was four times more valuable than any other Scandinavian treasure found in Britain or Ireland. Uncovered in England on May fifteenth, 1840, it was hidden away in a large chest and almost all of it was soon retrieved. Made up a wide array of artifacts, most of it now resides in the British Museum and the coins that were discovered as a part of it make it clear that it was buried in between 910 and 950.
18 The Hoxne Hoard
The kind of thing that is often played for jokes in movies, it turns out that anytime we laughed at a character endlessly employing a metal detector on the ground we were in the wrong. That is because someone stumbled across this massive amount of Roman goods in the east of England strictly because they were employing one of those machines. Made up of nearly eight pounds of gold, more than fifty-two pounds of silver, as well as the bronze, it has been valued at around $4,300,000 in the past.
17 The Staffordshire Hoard
The single largest array of Anglo-Saxon valuables to ever be uncovered took place on July 5, 2009. A man named Terry Herbert was searching a recently ploughed farmland and found some gold artifacts. A discovery that led to further excavation in the coming weeks, a registered charity named English Heritage paid for archaeologists to do the digging. This led to them bringing up more than 3,500 different individual items which the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery bought for more than £3 million pounds at auction.
16 Michael Rorrer’s Comics
One of the most unique entries on this list, a man named Michael Rorrer was tasked with cleaning out his dearly departed aunt Virginia’s home and discovered a mother lode of comics. Collected by his late Uncle Billy years earlier, he’d somehow managed to accumulate some of the most valuable comic books ever printed. Breaking the collection in half and selling that for $3.5 million, some highlights included the first appearances of Superman and Batman, as well as a long list of other historic issues.
15 The Pietroasele Treasure
One of those things we’ve never quite understood, how is it that so many treasures have been discovered in graves over the years? Don’t get us wrong, we know that some people may enjoy being buried with incredible valuables but we always wonder why these graves are dug up. Either way, in 1837, 22 large gold pieces from the Gothic period were uncovered in an ancient grave in Romania. Hugely valuable because of the intrinsic value of gold, in addition to that, these pieces are historically significant as they led to better understanding of the past.
14 The Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós
One of the most contested discoveries that has found its way onto this list, the Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós was found in Central Europe in 1799. Made up o 23 gold vessels, in total, they weigh around 22 pounds and they have continuously been on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum since its discovery. Debated by professionals for a long time now, no clear consensus has been come to in terms of the treasure’s origin due to their inscriptions, which has only added to their values.
13 Saddle Ridge Hoard
Buried in 8 tin cans in Sierra Nevada, California, an anonymous couple unearthed 1,427 different Liberty head coins in 2013. Said to have a face value of nearly $28,000, they were minted in between 1855 and 1894 and by the time of their discovery they were worth a great deal more than initially intended. The largest discovery of gold coins in the history of the United States, their exact value has not been completely nailed down but the most common figure is around $10 million.
12 Roger Baillon’s Classic Cars
Another unique entry on this list, like the previous entry about the comic book collection we included on this list, this treasure trove was handed down in an unusual inheritance. An entrepreneur from the 1950s, Roger Baillon was a Frenchman that left his farm to his grandsons who were surprised that their new land contained many cars, most of which were rusted out. Something we assume they were annoyed by at first, despite the poor state of these cars, they were pre-war automobiles that are so rare now that they were valued at $15 million.
11 Arthur Pinajian Art
The absolute best real estate deal in recent history, in 2013, 2 homeowners purchased a run-down old cottage in Bellport, New York for $300,000. Seen as an investment by the pair, inside they found thousands of paintings and drawings by an obscure artist named Arthur Pinajian who had requested they be thrown out upon his 1999 death. A request that was ignored, upon the discovery of the art the new cottage owners paid an additional $2,500 for the art and once restored it was valued at $30 million.
10 The Środa Treasure
Treasure that was found in two batches in 1985 and 1988 respectively, the Środa Treasure was uncovered due to the Polish government doing demolition at that time. Starting out as a single vase that contained 3,000 Prague groschen, those silver coins were very valuable but they were short sighted enough to not search the area further. Fortunately for them, 3 years later when more demolition was completed even more silver and gold valuables were uncovered. While some of it disappeared before the site could be properly secured, they still uncovered $120 one million worth of treasure.
9 Pereshchepina Treasure
In what had to be the most noteworthy day in the life of a young shepherd boy, in 1912 a Ukrainian youngster stumbled over a golden vessel and literally fell into unbelievable treasures. Believed to have found himself in the grave of Kubrat, the founder of the First Bulgarian Empire, that is disputed by some people but we do know he had found the burial site of a huge fortune. Made up of more than 800 pieces, this treasure trove contained things like a gold staff, an iron sword with a gold hilt, jewellery, and so much more.
8 1715 Treasure Fleet
The find of a lifetime, the Schmitt family found a treasure trove that has since been mined for more than $175 millions of valuables. Found 130 miles north of Miami and in fifteen feet of water, it was left there when the Spanish fleet sank in 1715. Governed by laws, the state of Florida gets twenty percent of that which leaves the remainder to be split between the Schmitts and the owner of the wreckage, Brent Brisben.
7 Treasure of Nimrud
The most notable Iraqi treasure by a long shot, the so-called Treasure of Nimrud survived periods of unrest and looting and was uncovered in 2003 to the delight of many. Contained in a vault that existed underneath the Central Bank of Baghdad, many of the items originated from the Assyrian capital of Nimrud. Made up of things like a golden crown as well as 613 pieces of gold jewelry and precious stones, they were created in the eighth or ninth century BC.
6 Java Treasure Trove
Valuable in more than one way, the discovery of the Java Treasure Trove in 2005 led to a greater understanding of ancient merchant routes. Discovered inside of a sunken ship off the coast of Indonesia, it had been down there for more than a 1000 years and was made up of artifacts from China’s Five Dynasties period from 907 to 960 AD. Including things like rare ceramics, 14,000 pearls, 4,000 rubies, 400 dark red sapphires, and more than 2,200 garnets, that is the kind of haul that is even beyond most fantasies.
5 The Caesarea Sunken Treasure
The most recent discovery to appear on this list, the world found out that the Caesarea Sunken Treasure had been found in 2016. Buried at sea when a merchant ship went down off the coast of Israel, it is believed to have been lost for around 1,600 years amazingly enough. That is until a pair of divers came across it in the Mediterranean Sea and informed the government as necessitated by law. This led to the area being combed over and many coins and a long list of far more valuable historically significant statues being brought back to land.
4 The Panagyurishte Treasure
Believed by some people to be the most valuable treasure ever discovered in Bulgaria, that is really saying something as a lot of long lost valuables have been unearthed in that country. Only made up of nine items in total, that may make it seem like this entry should be much lower on this list but they originated from the third to fourth century BC and were immaculately decorated. Unearthed by three brothers in 1949, these items are so important that at various times they have been referred to as being priceless.
3 The Bactrian Gold
Known by two different names, this incredible treasure trove is either called the Bactrian Gold or Tillya Tepe. No matter what name you give it, there is no debating that this discovery was an important moment in world history. Made up of almost everything of great value we can think of, it contained around 2,600 pieces and included ornaments, coins, and a wide range of other artifacts. Found in 6 different burial mounds that have been dated to the first century BC, they came across items made up of gold, silver, ivory, and so much more.
2 The Dead Sea Scrolls
Mostly made up of religious writings in Hebrew, these manuscripts were discovered in a series of caves near the Dead Sea, hence the name. Made up of fragments, most of them have been damaged throughout their existence. Painstakingly assembled by researchers, the consensus is that they were created in both the third century BCE and first century CE. Due to their lengthy age, they are some of the oldest surviving manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible which makes them of gigantic religious and cultural importance and value.
1 Tutankhamun's Treasure
An Egyptian pharaoh from the 18th dynasty, when Tutankhamun died his body was laid to rest in style. Discovered in between 1922 and 1927, ever since then the treasures of Tutankhamun have fascinated the world, in part due to the curse that is believed to befall those that enter his tomb. Surrounded by at least 5,398 different items, that is such an insane amount of treasure that no other trove can beat it. Furthermore, there are some people that believe there may still be undiscovered chambers of his tomb.
References: independent.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, thevintagenews.com, blazingbulgaria.wordpress.com, jpost.com, listverse.com, abc.net.au, news.nationalgeographic.com, encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com, mentalfloss.com, telegraph.co.uk, mashable.com, thebyzantinelegacy.com, ancientorigins.net, msn.com, today.com, staffordshirehoard.org.uk, bulgariaguide.com, bbc.co.uk, mentalfloss.com, en.wikipedia.org, reuters.com