Friday, August 23, 2013

Real-life Treasure Hunts (Some Never Solved)

From io9:

The Most Astonishing Real-Life Treasure Hunts

Sometimes our world seems bland in comparison to what we read in books and see in movies and television. Where are our chances at adventure, fame, and fortune? Well, here are 12 real-life treasure hunts — some of which have never been solved!
Top image: Masquerade by Kit Williams.

1. Forrest Fenn

In the 80s, a bout with cancer inspired "real life Indiana Jones" Forrest Fenn to fill a chest with treasures — including gold dust, gold coins, gold nuggets, Chinese jade carvings, a 17th Century Spanish gold and emerald ring - and a copy of his own book, so he could hide it in the desert before he died. He thought this would be a way to keep his memory alive.

Only he didn't die. But when he turned 80 in 2010, it occurred to him to just go ahead and hide it. The chest, valued somewhere between $1-3 million, is hidden in the mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The clues to its location are in a poem included in Fenn's autobiography:
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyons down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answer I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.
It hasn't been found yet, but Fenn has some advice:
What serious adventurers should remember is to not believe anything that is not in my poem or otherwise in my book. There’s some misinformation out there. For instance, I never said I buried the chest, I said only that I hid it. That is not to say it is not buried, so maybe we need to define the terms. Does ‘hidden’ mean in plain sight? What is the difference between ‘buried,’ ‘entombed’ and ‘sepultured’? What does the word ‘blaze’ in the poem mean? A horse can have a blaze on its forehead, a blaze can be scraped on a tree to mark one’s way, a blaze can mean a flame or a scar on a rock. And what about ‘water high’? Does it mean deep, or higher than normal?
The Most Astonishing Real-Life Treasure Hunts

2. La Chouette d'Or

In 1993, Max Valentin buried a bronze statue of an owl somewhere in France. Valentin wrote eleven clues to its location, which were accompanied by illustrations by sculptor Michel Becker. It hasn't been found yet, but Valentin said that people have come very close. He saw disturbed ground near its location and said that Dr. Gerald Gay has come the closest. 

Whoever does find it can exchange it for another piece originally valued at one million francs. If you want to look for it, the clues can be found here. The ability to speak French will be a huge help. But don't blow up a chapel looking for it, the way one treasure hunter did.
The Most Astonishing Real-Life Treasure Hunts

3. Copper Scroll

This scroll is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Instead of the literary works contained on the other scrolls, scroll 3Q15 appears to list locations of hidden gold and silver. It describes 64 locations where hidden caches can be found. Here are some examples:
In the fortress which is in the Vale of Achor, forty cubits under the steps entering to the east: a money chest and it [sic] contents, of a weight of seventeen talents.
In the gutter which is in the bottom of the (rain-water) tank...
In the Second Enclosure, in the underground passage that looks east...
In the water conduit of [...] the north[ern] reservoir...
The Copper Scroll was found on March 14, 1952 by an archaeologist. Its style of writing is very different from the other scrolls, and resembles the form of Greek inventories. It's also been dated as being from 25-75 CE or 70-135 CE. There are various theories as to what the treasure is. It could be that of the Qumran community, the Second Temple, or even the First Temple, which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. And, as is the tradition for ancient discoveries, it is also believed by some to be a hoax....MORE