|Among a hundred pieces of ancient jewelry for sale on December 8, 1999, was Lot 26, a spiraling, snake-shaped gold bracelet that the auction house identified as a "massive Greek or Thracian gold armband."|
Christie's estimated it would sell for as much as $100k. When the bidding stalled at $65k, the sale was called off—and the bracelet and its owner disappeared back into the underworld of ancient artifacts.
Lot 26, a "massive Greek or Thracian gold arm band," circa 2nd-1st Century, B. C.
|Lot 26 set off an international search to recover the lost heirlooms of Dacia, an empire that was once a mighty rival to ancient Rome. After nearly a decade of sleuthing by everyone from FBI agents to Interpol investigators and Romanian prosecutors, more than a dozen similar bracelets have been found, along with hundreds of gold and silver coins. Their discovery has led to new insights into Dacian society and religion.|
Sarmizegetusa was once the capital and sacred center of the Dacians, a civilization crushed by the Roman Emperor Trajan in two bloody wars more than 1,900 years ago. The victory, Roman chroniclers boasted, yielded one of the largest treasures the ancient world had ever known: half a million pounds of gold and a million pounds of silver.
|The recovered bracelets are now on display in Bucharest and are the only ones of their kind discovered in Romania. At least another dozen, including the one still known as Lot 26, remain missing.||Sarmizegetusa's stolen gold was nearly lost. Recovering it involved authorities in Europe and the United States and a decade of dogged sleuthing.|
Romanian authorities recovered 13 hammered gold bracelets and more than 27.5 pounds (12.5kg) of gold.