Treasures are found all the time, from ancient artifacts to modern masterpieces. But most of the time they’re only discovered after extensive research and exploration by people specifically trying to track them down. Occasionally, though, treasures can be found completely by accident. In some cases, these are some of the greatest finds that are ever uncovered. Here are the stories of the top 10 most amazing treasures found by accident.
10.The World’s Largest Pearl
We’ve all stored objects under our beds at some point, but for one fisherman from the Philippines there was more than just pocket change beneath his furniture. In 2006 he was out in his boat when his anchor got caught on a giant clam. He had to swim down to release it, and in a great twist of fate, he found a treasure by accident – giant pearl inside. Thinking it was an omen of good luck, he kept it under his bed and didn’t think any more of it.
That was until he needed to move house 10 years later, and gave the pearl to his aunt. She asked if she could offer it to the mayor of the town to put it on display. That’s when the extreme value of this find came to light. The pearl is 1 foot wide, 2.2 feet long, and weighs a staggering 75 pounds. Further tests are needed, but if the pearl was, indeed, formed inside a giant clam, it’s thought to be worth almost 100 million dollars.
9. Uncle Sam Diamond
The Crater of Diamonds state park in Arkansas attracts visitors from all around the world for one reason- if you’re lucky, you might just find yourself a diamond.
The unique geography of the area, combined with sporadic rainfall, means that they quite often rise to the surface for anyone to find. The area is one of the only diamond sites in the world that is open to the public.
If you find one- it’s yours to do with as you wish.
In total, more than 75,000 diamonds are thought to have been found in the park since 1906. The most impressive one of all became known as the Uncle Sam diamond.
It was found by W.O Basham in 1924. At a weight of 40.23 carats, it remains the largest to ever be found in the United States. In 1971 the cut diamond sold for the equivalent of 880,000 dollars so, with many more out there to be found, it’s probably time to visit Arkansas!
8. Atari Games Landfill
Nowadays Atari aren’t at the top of the list when you think of important video game developers. But back in the 80s, they were at the cutting edge of the industry. Games like Asteroids and Centipede sold in their masses. However, there was an urban legend that Atari ended up dumping a large number of cartridges, most notably copies of the E.T Videogame.
It is, after only 34 days of development, often referred to as being the worst video game in history, and a contributing factor to Atari’s downfall. Collectors will now pay a lot of money for these cartridges.
In 2014 Joe Lewandwoski, the owner of the refuse company that disposed of the cartridges in a New Mexico landfill site, came across some old records of where the games were buried. To prove the legend to be true, he invested more than 50,000 dollars into their retrieval.
Subsequently was able to sell them around the world for almost 108,000 dollars.
7. The Dead Sea Scrolls
There are so many unexplored places in the world that you can never be sure quite when the next amazing find will be made. One of the most important discoveries ever took place in 1946 near the dead sea. Fragments of writing had previously been found all around the area. In November of that year, a group of Bedouin shepherds stumbled across a cave that contained seven scrolls inside jars.
Further investigation led to a network of caves, each of which contained similar artifacts that have since become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
It’s still not clear who made, or stored, the writings. A leading theory suggests they were from a sect of Jews called the Essenes who lived at nearby Qumran. They are all religious texts, and have been dated to more than 2 thousand years old, and are written in 4 different languages- Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean. Most significantly, they are by far the oldest Hebrew manuscripts of the bible that have ever been found. There’s a suspicion that there are many more still waiting to be unearthed.
6. Valuable Artworks
Next time you look through a storage locker it’s worth keeping an eye out for anything unusual, because you may find a treasure by accident. Forgotten artworks are often found in this way, and have the potential to change your life.
In 2016, a French family was carrying out renovation works to their leaky roof. While moving objects out of their attic they found a Caravaggio painting thought to be worth 150 million dollars. Called “Judith Beheading Holofernes”, it was one of the artist’s most important works.
The discovery was described as a momentous occasion in European art history.
Elsewhere, in 1999, the museum of fine arts in Houston paid 1.25 million dollars for “Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth” by Martin Johnson Heade, a 19th-century artist.
This particular painting had been being used to cover a hole in a contractor’s home. He only realized it might be valuable when playing the board game “Masterpiece” that featured an image of it. After making inquiries, the sale was soon made. And he was able to finally cover up the hole in the wall properly.
5. Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is one of the most important artifacts that has ever been found. It was vital in learning how to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs. Towards the end of the Ancient Egyptian empire, Greek was the language spoken by the elite in society. Ptomely V commissioned the stone as a piece of political propaganda that was written in both Greek and Egyptian.
After the fall of the Egyptians, the stone was buried. It was only in 1799 that it was found again as a captain during the Napoleonic wars oversaw the restoration of an old fort near the small town of Rosetta where it was discovered. At first, it was unclear quite how significant the find was. But scholars began to study the etchings in 1814, and soon began to unlock the mysteries of Ancient Egypt.
4. Chinese Bowl
Garage sales are another place that valuable items can be found. One New York family hit the jackpot in 2007. They were looking for a bowl to place on a mantelpiece as a decoration; they ended up paying 3 dollars for one with a Chinese design that was just a little over five inches in diameter.
They were curious, though, and consulted with experts about its origin. They soon discovered that it was a 1 thousand-year-old “Ding” bowl from the Northern Song dynasty, the only other known of which had been on display in the British Museum for more than 60 years. It had a fine, near white body with an ivory colored glaze, and is a beautiful example of the pottery from that time. The family took it to the auction house Sotheby’s with an estimate of up to 300,000 dollars. But it finally sold for a massive 2.2 million after a Chinese antiquities collector fended off a number of other interested bidders.
3. Secret Stash of Comics
In 2011, Michael Rorrer of Virginia began the task of clearing out his recently deceased Great Aunt’s home. It was a tough time for him. But as he sifted through her belongings he made a spectacular find- a collection of more than 345 comic books.
It was an amazing stash that had been put together by his Great Uncle. It included rarities such as Action Comics No.1 which featured the first appearance of Superman, and Batman No 1 from 1940.
Within the collection were 44 of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide’s list of the top 100 books from the Golden Age of comics between the late 30s and 40s. As an avid fan, he read through the ones that piqued his interest, and then put them all up for sale. Most of them sold almost immediately, some for as much as 523,000 dollars. In total, the entire collection raised about 3.5 million dollars.
2. The Terracotta Army
Farmers from the small Xiyang Village in China were out one day in 1974 when they unearthed treasures found by accident. It one of the most important finds in archaeological history. They were attempting to dig a water well and, on the fifth day of work, their excavator pulled out a life-sized terracotta warrior. They thought it was a Pottery God, so kept digging for water and found further artifacts like bronze arrows and pieces of more warriors.
It was at this time that the discovery was reported to local authorities, and full-scale excavations begun. Since then a total of three pits have been found as part of a large necropolis, and more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and 670 horses are thought to be there – although most remain buried because of the risk of damaging them.
They are believed to have been made about 2,300 years ago and depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang, who was the first Emperor of China. The area is now a world heritage site. It’s still not entirely clear how large the collection is, or what the true purpose behind the life-size statues are. They represent a huge amount of work by more than 700,000 people. Each warrior is unique and seemingly based on the actual soldiers of the time.
Even the horses are individual to each other. Some accounts suggest that this was the final resting place of the emperor where he was buried surrounded by vast cities and more than 100 rivers of flowing mercury. Traces of mercury having been found in the surrounding soil. There could be a much larger discovery just waiting to be found.
1. Hanuman Dhoka Palace Treasure
In 2011 workers began renovations on Hanuman Dhoka, a former 16th-century royal palace in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
The dilapidated building urgently needed restoration works, but no one could have expected what would be uncovered. The palace covers a space of more than 5 acres, and while they were inspecting the foundations they found three boxes of treasure hidden within a storeroom.
In total the treasure weighed more than 661 pounds, and contained coins and ornaments in tribute to the gods. The first box was opened and was found to contain gold and silver worth about 233,334 dollars, and the other two were stored for future investigation. The site is steeped in history, and it’s thought there are far more secrets to be unearthed across the site. There are, for example, a series of treasure houses on the site that have so far not been opened because of their fragile state.
They are clouded in mystery and could contain invaluable treasures once they are finally explored. The political troubles in the region have made this process difficult, but they are hoping to be able to fully understand what lies there soon as efforts continue.
Which discovery did you think was the most amazing? And what’s the best treasure you’ve ever found by accident? Let me know in the comments section down below! Thanks for reading.