10 Ancient Relics Found in Unexpected Places … and Some Fetched a Fortune!
Not all treasures are recognized for their historical significance or immense value, especially when spotted by an untrained eye. Such was the case of the Bronze Age ceremonial dagger that had been used as a door stop, the engraved Chinese sword that was put to use as a kitchen knife, and the ancient Roman sarcophagus that had been used as a flower pot. Everyone dreams of finding a priceless treasure, and for some this dream has become a reality. From dusty attics, to garden ornaments, local markets and even eBay, ancient relics have been found in the most unexpected of places.
An elderly man was stunned when he discovered that a box of trinkets he inherited from his grandfather contained an ancient Greek crown made of pure gold that an auctioneer says is worth at least £100,000. The pensioner had seen the crown nearly a decade ago but did not realize its’ worth or importance and put it aside in a tatty cardboard box beneath his bed. It was only when he finally decided to get the box of items valued by Dukes of Dorchester, that he came to discover the crown is an authentic Greek myrtle wreath dating back to around 300 BC.
An object pulled up by a plow in a field and used to prop open an office door was identified by archaeologists as an extremely rare and valuable Bronze Age ceremonial dagger, known as a dirk, one of only six found in the whole of Europe. The artifact was first dug up more than a decade ago by a landowner in East Rudham, Norfolk, but not realising its significance, he used the relic as a door stop. It even came close to being tossed into a skip bin.
An ancient Chinese plate dating back to the 1700s was sold in the UK for almost a quarter of a million pounds. The plate, which carries the reign mark of Emperor Yongzheng, was sold by three South Derbyshire siblings who inherited it from their grandmother, but never realised just how valuable it was. The precious relic had been bought in the early 20th-century America by a Scottish businessman named Mr. Alexander Robertson. Once he died in 1922, the ancient plate, as well as the rest of his belongings, were shipped back to Edinburgh where they were divided amongst his relatives and passed down through the generations. The plate had sat in a box gathering dust until the siblings decided to have it valued.
A stone with mysterious carvings, possibly dating from the Anglo-Saxon or Viking era, had been on sale as a garden ornament when television host and archaeologist James Balme bought it, cleaned it and revealed an intricately designed carving. It is believed to date from the Anglo-Saxon period, from 410 to 1066 A.D.
A 60-year-old Chinese farmer who found an old sword blade digging in the ground used it as a kitchen knife for several years before realizing its value and historical importance. Experts think the sword dates to the Qing Dynasty because the characters for Qing Lang Jian, meaning Green Dragon Sword, are etched into it. The farmer, Yi Shouxiang, found the blade minus the handle and the pointed end five years ago while digging on his land in Chengkou County, Chongqing province.
In 1944, a solider was patrolling the strategically important Wessel Islands off the north coast of Australia when he stumbled upon five coins buried in the sand. Maurie Isenberg, who was manning a radar station on the uninhabited islands, stored the coins in a tin, and on coming across them again in 1979, sent them to a museum. The coins had been gathering dust for more than two decades until Australian anthropologist, Ian McIntosh, came across them and immediately realised the importance of their discovery. The finding suggests that Australia may have been visited by explorers from East Africa or the Middle East, long before the Dutchman stepped foot on Australian soil in the 17th Century.
A resident of New Brunswick in Canada found religious relics 200 to 500 years old in his attic. The man's daughter contacted a museum, an archaeologist, some nuns, a jeweler and a Catholic priest to help determine what they are. The archaeologist Williston called, Chelsea Colwell-Pasch, contacted the Vatican and Interpol to identify the decorated objects, called reliquaries, that contain bones. The bones themselves are called relics. When a person is sainted, the church used to collect body parts and put them in reliquaries and underneath altars.
A scholar of early Christianity at the University of Texas discovered a priceless fragment of the New Testament written in ancient Greek – for sale on eBay with an opening bid of just $99. The ancient papyrus fragment, was spotted by Dr Geoffrey Smith, who persuaded the seller to pull the item from eBay and allow him to study it. It is fortunate that Dr Smith managed to convince the seller to allow him to study the item, as Greek New Testament papyri are extremely rare – only around 130 such papyri are known, and they are considered the earliest witnesses to the original text of the New Testament. In addition, only around 3% of Christian biblical texts that survive from the first three centuries AD are from scrolls, the rest are codices.
Some people have all the luck. First, James Balme found what may be an Anglo-Saxon or Viking stonework artifact that was on sale as a garden stone. Then he hit it big by buying what may be a 3,000-year-old cartouche or seal of Ramesses II. The personal seal of one of the most famous Egyptian pharaohs, sold for £12 (about $19) on a charity website. James Balme, the lucky archaeologist, is having the stone cartouche analyzed by experts to determine whether it is the genuine article. If it is, it could be immensely valuable.
An ancient Roman sarcophagus worth up to 345,000 Euros ($364,000) was found in England on the grounds of a monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, where it was used as a flowerpot for almost a century. What could be described as an unfortunate case of mistaken identity, the newly acknowledged Roman artifact of immense archaeological and historical significance, served as a humble flowerpot in the rock garden of Sir Winston Churchill's birthplace in Oxfordshire. After conservators removed the front marble section and carried out a detailed examination, they were shocked to identify the basin as a white marble sarcophagus portraying lively and noisy Dionysian festivities, dating back to 300 AD.