Saturday, 28 May 2016

Britain’s biggest ever gold nugget discovered near treasure-laden shipwreck in Wales

Vincent Thurkettle discovered a 3oz (97g) nugget off the coast of Anglesey in 2012. The gold prospector kept his find a secret for four years so he could continue to search the area for gold - only going public once he was sure there was no more.

The nugget is believed to be part of a £120million haul that went down with the Royal Charter when it was shipwrecked during a hurricane in 1859.
The Royal Charter was a steam clipper which was wrecked off the beach of Porth Alerth in Dulas Bay on the north-east coast of Anglesey on 26 October 1859. About 450 lives were lost. The Royal Charter was returning to Liverpool from Melbourne. Her complement included many gold miners, some who had struck it rich at the diggings in Australia and were carrying large sums of gold. A consignment of gold was also being carried as cargo.
The Royal Charter broke up on these rocks near Moelfre
The wreck was extensively salvaged by Victorians shortly after the disaster. The remains of Royal Charter lie close inshore in less than 5 metres of water as a series of iron bulkheads, plates and ribs which become covered and uncovered by the shifting sands from year to year.

Gold sovereigns, pistols, spectacles and other personal items have been found by scuba divers over the years
Britain's second biggest nugget was the Carnon Nugget found in Cornwall in 1808 and weighing 2.08oz (59g). The Rutherford Nugget, which was found in Scotland in 1869, comes in third at 2.04oz (57.9g).

Friday, 13 May 2016

Mystery of the missing Gods

A tumbled ruin: the Brihadeeswara temple. A stone warrior guards the doorway, half-sunk in sand. Hundreds of bats whirl overhead, shrieking at the intrusion. Exposed beams, textured by time and mold, add to the musty smell in the air. Cobwebs on prayer lamps enhance the sense of abandonment. The altar is stripped bare, like a frame without a picture: It's a temple without a god. The 1,000-year-old guardian of the temple, Shiva Nataraja, is missing from his abode.
The Lord of Cosmic Dance has travelled 9,000 km to the National Gallery of Art in Canberra, Australia. How did he get there? Ask Subhash Kapoor, 65, a New Delhi-born and New York-based antiquity dealer, considered an art connoisseur as well as one of the biggest idol smugglers in the world.

He sold the Nataraja for $5.1m 2008. Kapoor is suspected of stealing over 150 idols worth $100 million from India. "Art and antiquity theft is one of the most lucrative crimes," says IPS officer Prateep V. Philip, director general, EOW, in Chennai. "It outbids drug trafficking, arms dealing, and money laundering." The odds of recovering stolen treasures are abysmal, one in ten. But in this case, authorities managed to trace the idol
Six gods were identified in museums and private collections across the world: Canberra, New South Wales, Chicago, Ohio to Singapore. The Australian government has ordered NGA to remove the Nataraja from display.

American and Indian investigators have compiled an enormous dossier on Kapoor. Much of the material has been the product of an investigation called Operation Hidden Idol.

American authorities say Kapoor was, in volume and value, the largest antiquities smuggler in American history.
Their best evidence is an almost unimaginable 2,622 items, worth $107.6 million that was confiscated from storerooms in Manhattan and Queens, and virtually all of it contraband from India. American museums have begun returning possibly stolen artifacts to India. Museums from Hawaii to Massachusetts have handed over items bought from Kapoor’s defunct business, Art of the Past, which was on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

Another 15 American museums have been identified as holding items obtained from Kapoor
February 5, 2016. The special court in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu falls silent. No one answers to “Subhash Chandra Kapoor”, the court officer looks at the prosecutors and police officers. They explain that he is being brought from the Puzhal prison in Chennai, his home since 2012. The court is adjourned.

In a while, a police van enters. Policemen escort a balding, fair man in his 60s, whose face is covered with a blue cotton towel. Though this was his first visit in handcuffs to Kumbakonam, Kapoor has known the temple town closely for many years. This was, after all, a major source for his colossal antique business. On March 11, US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized two more stolen Indian sculptures, dating back to the 8th and 10th centuries from auction house Christie's in New York. Though the Homeland Security Investigations seized 2,622 objects from his warehouse, only 18 idols have been mentioned in the two cases registered by the Tamil Nadu police.

Every day, Kapoor has bread, a cup of rice and five pieces of fried fish.

See ----->

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Boudicca Gold Hoard

In early 2009, 824 gold staters, worth the modern equivalent of £1m when they were in circulation, were found in a field near Wickham Market, Suffolk.

Almost all the coins were minted by royal predecessors of Boudicca, the warrior queen of the Iceni tribe.
The Boudiccan Revolt raged from 60-61AD and saw British tribes, under Boudicca of the Iceni, try to defeat the Roman army. Boudicca was Queen of the Iceni, a British tribe who lived in what is today Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Her name is an early form of the more commonly known name 'Victoria'.
Her husband, Prasutagus, was ruler of the Iceni people, and the Romans allowed Prasutagus to continue as king, ruling on their behalf. But, when Prasutagus died, the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and they confiscated the property of the leading Iceni families and called all their loans.The Romans are also said to have stripped and whipped Boudicca, and raped her daughters.

Boudicca led 100,000 Iceni, Trinovantes and others to fight the Legio IX Hispana and burned and destroyed Londinium, and Verulamium (modern-day St Albans). An estimated 70,000–80,000 Romans and British were killed in the three cities.
The Romans regrouped in the West Midlands, and despite being heavily outnumbered, managed to defeat the Britons in the Battle of Watling Street.

The crisis caused the Emperor Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from Britain, but the eventual victory over Boudicca resecured Roman control of the province. Boudicca either killed herself so she would not be captured, or fell ill and died.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Door to Hell

In the middle of the Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan, the "Door to Hell" can be found.

In 1971, Soviet geologists accidentally discovered a cave filled with natural gas when the ground beneath their oil rig collapsed. The geologists decided to light the gas on fire and burn it away. That large crater, 70 metres in diameter, has been burning ever since.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Accidental Discoveries

Lascaux Cave. In 1940, four French teenagers were roaming the forests near Montignac when their dog began sniffing around a hole in the ground. After shimmying down a stone shaft, the boys encountered a vast underground cavern whose walls were adorned with some 2,000 ancient paintings and engravings. Before long, word of the Lascaux cave’s exquisite collection of animal drawings and abstract symbols spread across Europe, and it became known as the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistoric Art.”

Historians later placed the age of its paintings at around 15,000-17,000 years old, and many believe the cave was once the site of religious and hunting rites among the Upper Paleolithic.
In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers found the tomb of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The seven-man team was digging a well near the city of Xian when one of their shovels struck the head of a buried statue. When archeologists conducted further excavations, they found it was one of some 8,000 life-sized terra cotta soldiers, horses and chariots constructed to guard the 3rd century B.C. Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife.

The tomb and its highly detailed soldiers—each has its own unique face—are now regarded as some of the most important treasures in China.
The Venus de Milo spent centuries buried on the Greek island of Melos. The armless statue was found in 1820, when a peasant accidentally discovered its top half while trying to salvage marble building blocks from a pile of ancient ruins. The find caught the attention of a French naval officer and in 1821 it was presented to King Louis XVIII and donated to the Louvre. Art historians have since speculated that the Venus is meant to represent the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers stumbled upon a large basalt slab while knocking down ancient walls to make improvements to a French fort near the town of Rosetta. Once deciphered, the glyphs provided scholars with the tools they needed to begin the first in depth studies of ancient Egyptian language and literature.
The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the earliest known pieces of the Bible. In 1947 a band of sheepherders were tending their flock near the ancient city of Jericho. While looking for a lost goat, one of the boys tossed a stone into a nearby cave and was shocked to hear what sounded like a shattering clay pot. When he went in the cave to investigate, he found several jars containing a collection of ancient papyrus scrolls.

When the Declaration of Independence was originally issued, 200 copies were printed. Only a few have ever been found and verified. One of those was discovered in 1989 after a Pennsylvania man went into a thrift store looking for a picture frame. His $ 4 frame and picture hid copy number 25 of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It sold for nearly $2.5 million.