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The Golden Hoard | Our Five Top Treasure Hunters

THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY has the kind of hierarchy you’d probably expect from such a wellspring of wealth and global esteem. For the most part, business is dominated by huge companies, while its constant profits are tracked by the keen-eyed investors of the Wall Street world. has the kind of hierarchy you’d probably expect from such a wellspring of wealth and global esteem. For the most part, business is dominated by huge companies, while its constant profits are tracked by the keen-eyed investors of the Wall Street world.

The coloured gems industry is quite different, though, in as much as it still relies on relatively small miners and lone adventurers. Demand, as you know, begets supply and supply requires a handful of individuals to venture out onto treacherous and untrodden paths in search of unique treasures. Indeed the most valuable and widely-coveted stones are sourced from exotic and far-flung countries like Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Myanmar. What this means is that treasure hunting is not for the faint-hearted, but rather for those who aren’t afraid of the unknown and who would willingly pitch their wits against the wild.

Over the years it has become apparent that treasure/gem hunting is a dangerous game. Following is a list of pioneers who’ve searched the surface of the Earth with the same diligence and tenacity as a probe sent plummeting into the abysses of space. Sometimes it is, evidently, a thankless task – playing the lottery of stones, uncertain as to whether a mountain of earth will contain a single precious grain. Other times an unlikely explorer, or even a group of children playing somewhere unusual, might simply happen upon a rough crystal protruding from an unknown mineral deposit. Nothing is certain in the treasure hunting business, except the fact that the ones who persist and continue to take risks are always going to surpass those who won’t. These real Indiana Jones types might sound like larger than life characters, but that’s partly because they are. They operate at the outer limits of what is known and conventional, diving headfirst into the wild and facing extreme dangers and often insurmountable odds. Their stories colour the history of gemstones and serve to remind us of the true value of what we hold in our hands and wear in our jewellery.

At Gold Boutique we like to think of gems as integral natural artefacts linked to the history of our planet, as well as the other celestial bodies that surround us. The connection that some of us have with these artefacts is the same one we experience when we hear rare birdsong or find a collection of wildflowers. With jewellery a piece of rough nature has been carefully crafted and polished to be worn as a timeless reminder of a world and beauty much greater than ourselves. Anyone who doubts this powerful connection and the value of the treasures we keep should watch this interview segment with Bill Sauder, director of RMS Titanic research. In the video Bill talks about the moment when they pulled the soft felt perfume vials from a collection of rotted, rusted and odourless remains. The avid collector describes how the vials released this fleeting, yet overpowering fragrance of heaven that filled the lab. He describes how he then felt the dancing glimmer of all those lost souls, before his voice suddenly breaks and he bursts into tears. Listening to this heartfelt recollection the power of artefacts and treasures immediately becomes manifest.

There are so many stories we could tell – we could be sitting around a mighty campfire with a stock of wood and several nights to kill, but we still wouldn’t be able to get through them all. We wanted to talk about the Spanish conquistador, Juan Ponce de Leon, and his famous search for the Fountain of Youth, during the Gold-hungry expansion of the Spanish Empire. We wanted a full section for Frederick Graham and Richard Knight’s feverish adventure off the secluded Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc. Sadly we’ll just have to settle for the short version, in which they rented a speedboat and bounded off onto the waves, with the plush Thai resort of Pattaya receding in their wake. Their mission was to find the buried treasure of the 17th century pirate Captain Kidd. Frederick was being led by the former actor and extrovert, Richard Knight, who had in his possession his grandfather’s tattered, 300-year old map. When they landed, illegally, in Vietnam they were arrested almost immediately. The authorities pinned their release with a $10,000 fine that the British government saw as a ransom and refused to pay for fear of setting a bad precedent. Consequently the two hapless treasure hunters were sent to a Vietnamese prison, which – as anyone who’s read prisoners’ accounts of a South East Asian lock-up will know – must’ve been a veritable hell on earth wrapped in dirty concrete. In fact, at one point Frederick was being held in the gloom of solitary confinement when he was forced to confront an onslaught of earthly nightmares, namely hallucinogenic nightmares of the Tet Offensive of 1968, which he’d witnessed as a child in Saigon, South Vietnam. Eventually the two Englishmen were saved – Frederick first and then Richard – by an English businessman, Kenneth Crutchlow, who announced that it was his duty as an Englishman to intervene and put up the money.

Aside from certain parts of history we had to overlook (in case of potential disinterest), we also chose not to include contemporary gem hunters like Steve Bennett, explorer, philanthropist and CEO of Gemporia, as well as Richard W. Hughes, award-winning author and fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. That being said, though, we could quickly mention Richard’s most exciting expedition – an attempt to reach the secret Jade mines of Hpakant, in upper Myanmar. Unsure of what to expect, Richard was headed towards a jungle redoubt closely guarded by Myanmar’s secretive military. The trek was punishing to say the least, taking Richard and his team on a snaking path through the densest and most malaria-ridden forests east of the Congo. Sometimes they had to climb dirt roads turned into rivers of muck after long periods of monsoon rainfall. Often their few vehicles would become stuck whereupon a team of elephants would have to haul them out, trudging slowly uphill as the vehicles spluttered and roared behind them. Along the way Richard also encountered the opium-smoking locals of rickety jungle villages and there he heard hushed stories of the ‘strange place’ beyond the encroaching ridges. When Richard arrived at Hpakant he discovered this ‘strange place’ was actually an oasis for prospectors, gathered in a seedy boomtown bubble of drug smugglers, gamblers and prostitutes. Bizarrely the stores were stocked with French perfume and imported cognac, while the streets were crowded with armies of diggers hauling bloated baskets of earth. Before long he also saw wild gem hunters diving into rivers in spate with nothing but tubes attached to onshore decompression pumps, allowing them to breathe underwater. These were the lengths the locals would go to for precious stones – it was unlike anything Richard had seen before.

Like we said, we could talk forever about all those crazy treasure hunters and the various expeditions they’ve launched over the years. However, in the interest of time, let’s press on to our favourite five:


Jewellery seemed to run in the Bridges family. Dr Rodney Bridges was the chief geologist at the Central Mining and Investment Corporation in South Africa. Then his son, Campbell R. Bridges, grew up on the inside track into this great, glittering world.

During his childhood Campbell Bridges picked up his father’s ability to read landscapes as though they were books. He’d survey topographical maps and interpret the features as tell-tale signs of what might rest beneath the surface. This was a perpetual ability that was manifest throughout his life. It then developed into a professional talent when he was a buccaneering gemmologist, spending his working days tangling with snakes, scorpions and big cats in the African bush. Indeed Campbell Bridges became a fearless pioneer leading many hunts for rare stones, namely along the border of Kenya in a concealed valley overlooked by rugged hills and mountains, one of which was the snow-crested Mount Kilimanjaro.

On one particular hunt the sun had just risen over the hills when several of Bridges’s workers decided to jump down into a pit. When they hit the ground they disturbed a cobra that suddenly reared its head and rose up, its hood spread and trembling fiercely. Then, with a short hiss, it loosed a spray of venom that hit the nearest man. Another time Bridges himself was caught in the insensate clutches of the wild. One day, in 1967, while he was walking in the bush, he stumbled across a raging buffalo that charged at him and drove him into a gully. Supposedly it was in this gully that he noticed the sunlight glinting off a collection of green crystals embedded in the flanks of dirt. He described their effusion as the truest green that was ‘pure in every sense’. What he didn’t know was that he’d actually just discovered an entirely new variety of garnet. Later it became known as Tsavorite and its discovery earned Bridges a coveted and highly-esteemed post as a special consultant for Tiffany & Co. in 1973.

Unfortunately, as it happened, blooms of Tsavorite were very difficult to exploit commercially. To keep business booming Bridges travelled down to Tanzania and prospected for untouched deposits on the sweltering Tanzanian plains. At times he lived in rickety tree houses some thirty feet above the ground, where he was out of the reach of the less hospitable wildlife. That being said, though, it didn’t stop an invasive group of leopards from using his bedroom as a place to devour their kills. Bridges recalled how he’d often return home to find the gory remains of a half-mauled antelope strewn across his bedspread.

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Years later Bridges returned to Kenya and bought a six-hundred acre property where he made a comfortable life for him and his family. That is until August 11th when he was driving his pick-up truck down a dusty trail to investigate rumours of local encroachment. Suddenly he was brought to a halt by a roadblock. Then a twenty-strong gang sprung an ambush and attacked him with crude weapons, including an array of clubs, machetes, spears, bows.  At seventy one years old he, his son and four staff managed to fight back and heartily repel the mob. Sadly he died of his injuries at hospital shortly after. It later transpired that the attack was the culmination of a three-year dispute over access and control of Mr Bridges’s gemstone mines. A close friend, Rev. John Ellison, spoke of the tragedy and characterised Bridges as a fit and lovely man who ‘hated dishonesty’ and would ‘stand up to anyone’.


Several military reports gave an account of Forrest Fenn’s service and recorded his conduct with critical raves. They described a man would stood out and was destined for greatness.

After he hung up his wings and retired from the Air Force, Forrest Fenn turned his industrious mind to a trading post in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There’s no denying that Forrest must’ve cut a worldly Texan figure, in his pearly-white cowboy hat, making a healthy living collecting and selling rare artefacts. Ever since he found his first arrowhead he’d been possessed by an urge to discover treasures hidden in the earth. He was especially interested in that which no one had ever seen before. By collecting rare and unseen artefacts he was able to bring history to life, not just for himself, but for countless others as well.

For two decades Forrest and his wife, Peggy, ran one of the finest art galleries in America. Forrest managed the place with the ethos of a rogue, hanging signs around the exhibitions that encouraged visitors to touch whatever they wanted. He believed that the past should be tangible and experience intimately, not from a distance. Indeed he was an essentially eccentric and fearless man; an assignation surely proven by the fact he owned a huge Louisiana alligator named Beowulf. He also collected an extensive variety of Native American antiquities, as well as many other treasures important to the fragile historical and cultural fabric of America. Recalling his life he proudly stated that he’d slid a finger through a Jade mask older than Jesus, acquired Sitting Bull’s (one of the most influential Indian Plains chiefs of the 19th century) handmade peace pipe and touched the case of a mummified falcon from King Tut’s tomb.

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In 1988 Forrest Fenn was diagnosed with cancer and given an abrupt death-sentence. To conclude a life well-lived Forrest Fenn devised a plan to collect and bury a treasure hoard that was reportedly worth $1m-$3m dollars. Within this collection there is an array of gold nuggets, jewellery, rare coins and colourful gemstones, along with a jar holding Fenn’s autobiography. He piled it all into a chest and buried it in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, north of his home in Santa Fe. The only condition for the search, he stated, was that the treasures hunters should ‘have as much fun finding it as [he] had all [those] years collecting it’. Within his memoirs he also left scattered clues divulging the location of this buried chest. However he had to elaborate slightly in interviews, after it was discovered that heavy-handed hunters had dug-up his families’ graves in vain and vulgar attempts to gain his hidden millions. Despite the fact that Fenn has survived his fight with cancer, he still maintains that he will one day execute his final plan to wander into the hills and die with his treasure, so that his bones will rest alongside the chest.


The moustachioed Lt. Colonel Percival Harrison Fawcett was a British artillery officer, archaeologist and explorer of South America. In 1901 he joined the Royal Geographical Society, having completed a long period of study in which he mastered the finer disciplines of surveying and mapmaking. Years later he was contracted to work for the British Secret Service in North Africa, where he also became friends with the renowned author of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle.

In 1906, at the age of 39, Fawcett travelled to Brazil and began to map an unexplored expanse of dense jungle along the border of Brazil and Bolivia. During his exploration Fawcett claimed that he sighted and shot a monstrous anaconda that was sixty-two feet long. Consequently he received a great deal of ridicule from the scientific community and thereafter he became known as a man who was prone to wild flights of embellishment. Other unknown animals that Fawcett encountered included a cat-like dog as large as a foxhound and a giant, hairy Apazauca spider that supposedly poisoned a number of the locals. Four years later Fawcett launched another expedition to find the source of the Heath River between Peru and Bolivia. Again he returned with more feverish stories of untamed flora and oversized critters. Regardless of whether these first-hand accounts are true or not, they certainly sparked the imagination of his old friend Arthur Conan Doyle, who used Fawcett’s field reports as inspiration for his dinosaur-packed adventure novel: The Lost World.

Fawcett was an old-fashioned adventurer – a yarn-spinning explorer and fearless pioneer. In his early years, he accomplished a great deal and travelled throughout South America, often taking untrodden paths that snaked into the unknown. Our interest peaked when we read that, in 1925, Fawcett journeyed to Mato Grosso, Brazil. It was in this uncharted region – amongst the ragged sandstone mountains, cathedral canyons and sprawling, waterfall-dotted jungles – that Fawcett intended to find the lost city of ‘Z’, which was the name he used for El Dorado. In English El Dorado means ‘the golden one’ and supposedly this was a reference to the tribal chief of the Muisca, who were the native inhabitants of Colombia. Legend told that this eccentric chief adhered to an odd initiation ritual that involved him covering himself in gold dust and diving into Lake Guatavita. Thereafter he became known as the ‘Golden King’ and was widely regarded as the opulent possessor of a great hoard of gold.

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The lost city, El Dorado, captured the attention of the world and began to conjure fevered talk of a gleaming city made entirely of gold. Over the centuries many explorers journeyed across South America in search of this city. In the 16th Century Sir Walter Raleigh acquired several old maps of El Dorado and endeavoured to find the city on the shores of Lake Parime, to no avail. Hundreds of years later, in 1925, Fawcett decided to pick up where Raleigh had left off. Before he left he insisted that, if he and his team went missing, no rescuers should follow him into danger. Amongst his company was his eldest son, Jack Fawcett, and son’s friend, Raleigh Rimmell. They kept their team small to avoid the interest of the local bow-and-arrow tribes. Indeed history had proven that the Indian natives saw the white man as a kind of rarely sighted alien (like a hairless Sasquatch) and were inclined to respond violently to their appearance.

On May 29th, in 1925, Fawcett wrote a letter to his wife. After that they were reportedly seen crossing the Upper Xingu, a south-eastern tributary of the Amazon River. But then they disappeared and it was widely believed that the local Indians had killed them. Soon countless other stories began to circulate and a number of rescue missions were attempted, one of which yielded Fawcett’s theodolite compass, but nothing else. Many posited the theory that Forrest and his companions had succumbed to the harsh environment, having been eaten by wild animals or buckled by tropical diseases. Others said that Forrest has lost his memory and been appointed as the chief of a tribe of cannibals. Interestingly a recent investigation was made by theatre and television director, Misha Williams, the results of which appeared in The Guardian. Williams had been granted access to a collection of previously hidden papers that proved Fawcett had no intention of ever returning to Britain. Instead, it seemed as though he wanted to establish a commune in the jungle and practice an obscure religion that propounds the worship of one’s own children. However, there is another theory, which Williams gleaned from several sketches of a beautiful woman that haunted the secret archive. The woman pictured was an alluring, ageless ‘sith’ (‘spirit guide’) who Williams suspected of acting as a kind of erotic siren, calling Fawcett into the heart of mystery.

The last sighting of Forrest was passed down the oral history of the local Kalapalo tribe. They recalled Forrest as the first white man they’d ever seen and spoke of how he was a guest at their village before heading eastward. For five consecutive days, the Kalapalos were able to see Forrest’s campfire smoke rising over the jungle. Then, on the sixth night, it disappeared, leading them to believe, as many others did, that the more violent Indian tribes of that region had slaughtered them. That faint ribbon of smoke was the last known vestige of Colonel Fawcett and his intrepid little team. The truth of what happened thereafter is yet to be uncovered. Perhaps Fawcett was snatched up by cannibals or maybe he even managed to build his commune out there – a real-life Kurtz stolen by the wild.

‘The English go native very easily’, he once wrote, ‘There is no disgrace in it… it shows a creditable regard for the real things in life’.


Sir Henry ‘Barbadosed’ Morgan was a British privateer, buccaneer and admiral of the Royal Navy. If you were to read about him from a Spanish perspective it’s likely you’d hear them bandy crooked words, calling him a ‘pirate’, and rightly so. Indeed Captain Morgan’s business mostly involved the raiding of Spanish settlements and the acquisition, throughout his life, of everything from fabrics and jewellery to cocoa and weaponry. Towards the end of his time at sea he was a notorious privateer. In fact, his name became a fierce legend that was whispered across the Caribbean, as though it was gently carried on the doldrums.

So how did it all begin? What were the origins of this illustrious man – the modern day face of Caribbean rum? Well, Henry Morgan started out like any detached young kid struggling to find a purpose in life. He left school early because, in his words, he was ‘more used to the pike than the book’. He became a man of little experience and yet he still sailed with the navy to the Caribbean to play his part in the grand Western Design that was shaping the New World. His first real taste of combat was soured by failure, when, during the battle of Santo Domingo, they failed to take the island. The fleet then moved to Jamaica and assumed the role of local protectors. In 1661 Commodore Christopher Mings appointed Morgan as the Captain of his first vessel. He took this as a chance to carry out cannonball law, collecting wealth from the many forts that he and his crew destroyed. Soon he was appointed as vice-admiral of a fleet that gained the Spanish island colony of Providence and destroyed all but a few of the enemy ships there. In doing so the Admiral plundered countless local settlements and collected heaps of treasures under the flag of Queen and Country.

After seizing Providence the Admiral lingered and enlisted scattered groups of pirates to defend the area. Then one day he caught sight of a Spanish man-of-war sliding along the offing. Spurred into action, he returned to Jamaica whereupon Providence was lost as the fickle pirate population yielded to the Spanish. Meanwhile Morgan rallied to the defence of Jamaica. In order to ensure success he first decided to bolster his fleet, adopting the unusual tactic of sailing to far-flung ports and directly approaching the most daring pirates there. While other admirals were usually inclined to send out a flyer, Morgan instead arrived at the ports himself, dressed in his red silk finery and adorned with fancy gold and jewels. His plan was to advertise his wealth to the local swashbucklers and it worked too, since he acquired five hundred of the finest pirates.

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For years thereafter Morgan launched countless pre-emptive attacks and went on to hound the encroaching Spanish. On one occasion his fleet was moored at a town on Lake Maracaibo, which was the sole waterway leading to Panama City. Suddenly the Spaniards appeared and blocked the shallow sandbar-striped channel behind them. At that point the choice was simple: they could either surrender or accept arrest. Morgan, ever the reckless rouge, quickly devised another option, which was to fight their way out, in spite of the odds. To do so he devised an ingenious plan. He took his largest pirate ship, the Satisfaction, and turned it into a ‘fire ship’ by filling the wooden bowels with hollowed logs packed with explosives. Then he sailed the floating bomb directly into the Spanish flagship, the Magdalena. As the ‘fire ship’ neared, the brave few on-board threw grappling hooks that caught the Magdalena and wrenched it into the subsequent explosion. Miraculously the plan worked and water poured into the Magdalena’s ruptured hull as it slumped slowly into the water.

Upon his return, Morgan received a new commission and was awarded the title of commander-in-chief, at which point he became responsible for all of the ships of war in Jamaica. From then on he received the majority of his earnings through the booty gained in his various expeditions. That isn’t to say that his income wasn’t substantial though. In actual fact, Morgan had hands like the tentacles of an octopus and he was acquiring a great hoard of treasures through the various attacks that were launched under his name. He went on to sack several wealthy cities like Panama, whilst also finding time to hunt treasure galleons and plunder many more Spanish settlements. In short, he continued to use the conflict between England and her enemies to earn treasures for himself and his crew. Eventually, he’d acquired a heap of jewels, many of which are still stored in unopened cargo boxes and chests now encrusted in coral and hidden in the greenish gloom of the ocean deep. In fact – you might want to grab your snorkels and fins – one of the five ships Morgan lost in the fight for Panama City was recently found strewn across the Lajas Reef.

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There are, of course, a number of booty-hunting pirates we could’ve discussed in this section, namely Henry Avery, who, in 1695, acquired a single treasure ship that was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. There was also a dashing Welsh pirate, Bartholomew ‘Black Bart’ Roberts, who collected myriad treasures and captured more ships (over 470) than any other pirate in the Golden Age of Piracy. However, none are quite so notorious, or as well preserved in fiction, as the Captain of the mighty Queen Anne’s Revenge: Blackbeard. It was said that Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach  strapped his chest with rows of pistols, dressed all in black and wore a large captain’s hat fitted with slow-burning fuses that sputtered oily plumes of smoke. Just imagine how he must’ve looked, caught in the midst of battle, with his black mane and woven beard waving, while his smoke-wreathed face twisted with terrible menace. Actually, come to think of it, it’s not surprising that so many of his enemies were compelled to surrender.

In the end, Blackbeard was cornered by two huge Royal Navy Sloops and isolated from the majority of his crew, who were on shore at the time. He was brought down in hand-to-hand combat, fighting on the deck, alongside his fellow seadogs. By the time he finally fell he’d suffered five bullet wounds and twenty sword cuts – a final testimony to his warrior reputation. Thereafter his head was taken to collect a bounty, but his body was thrown into the water, whereupon it supposedly circled the ship three times before sinking into the deep.


Heinrich Schliemann was a German businessman and pioneer of field archaeology. He was also a devoted advocate of discovering the truth that was buried within history. Indeed he spent much of his life trying to find the true history behind great poetic works like Homer’s tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey. This lifelong enthusiasm was inspired by his father who schooled him from a young age and often read him Homer’s long elaborate tales of war and love. Later Schliemann recalled how one of his earliest and most prized possessions was a copy of Ludwig Jerrer’s ‘Illustrated History of the World’ and how, at the age of 8, he proclaimed that he would one day excavate the city of Troy.

Despite his colossal dreams, Schliemann had to wait a lifetime before he could visit that ancient city from his childhood. As a young man, he was turned onto a vagabond’s life as a cabin boy, riding on a steamer bound for Venezuela. Later he jumped jobs, from messenger to office attendant to bookkeeper. By the time he reached his twenties he’d developed a system for absorbing languages that rendered him fluent in English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Greek, Latin, Russian, Arabic and Turkish. Not only was this evidence of his stalwart dedication, it was also integral to his success in the import trade, which is where he inevitably ended up. Unfortunately, it was during this time that he learned about the death of his brother, Ludwig, who was a wealthy speculator in the California gold fields. Upon hearing the news Schliemann travelled to California, equipped with the typified top hat and curled moustache of a young tycoon. He started a bank in Sacramento and wound up reselling over a million dollars’ worth of Gold dust. A year later Schliemann sold his lucrative business and travelled to Russia. Next he tried his hand at selling indigo dye and managed to turn a good profit. Then finally, during the Crimean War (1854-1856), he became a military contractor selling sulphur, lead and all the other constituents of ammunition to the Russian government.

Eventually, Schliemann retired from his chameleonic career and dedicated himself to a single pursuit – one that he hadn’t forgotten since his childhood – which was, of course, the excavation of Troy. His devotion to this end caused him to suffer a bitter divorce, although he did remarry shortly after. It also cost him an extortionate amount of money and required all of his talent and energy. Before long Schliemann began his dig in Turkey, on the arid Trojan Plains where the remains of Homeric Troy were believed to be buried. During the dig Schliemann wrote a thesis in Ancient Greek and also recorded his findings as he began to delve into the hallowed Trojan Battlefield, near Hissarlik. Yet he never forgot his lifelong mission to find the remnants of Troy’s vast fortifications.

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In 1873 Schliemann and his team found bright glimmers of gold scattered in the earth and quickly recovered a cache of gold. Schliemann named it ‘Priam’s Treasure’. His new wife, Sophia, later wore another of their discoveries – the ‘jewels of Helen’ – for the public. These  ancient pieces are now held in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Years later, when Schliemann was leading a dig at Mycenae, he discovered deep shaft graves and, therein, skeletons accompanied by regal collections of gold. In one of these collections Schliemann found the so-called ‘Mask of Agamemnon’, a gold funeral mask that was fitted to a body (Schliemann believed it was the Greek leader Agamemnon) concealed in the gloom of a deep burial shaft.

Some critics have argued that Schliemann was far too heavy handed when he went digging for Troy. It is true that the enormous trench he made actually spoiled a phenomenal amount of material. In addition he supposedly destroyed the first fragile layers of the Trojan fortifications, essentially levelling the city walls and achieving something that no army had ever done before. However it’s also true that Schliemann was one of the most skilled excavators of his time. Few were more equipped for field work than he and in many cases critics have unfairly judged his work by the advanced standards of modern archaeological investigations.

No matter what side you take, there’s no denying that Schliemann was a pioneer in the study of Bronze Age Aegean civilization. Instead of spending his retirement with his feet up he pursued a dream that his father had given to him. When his time at Troy was done and he no longer had permission to dig, Schliemann returned, rather reluctantly, to Athens. Even then he remained dedicated to field archaeology, devising a plan to excavate Knossos, Europe’s oldest city, although unfortunately he died before he could fulfil that final dream.

 Of course, we don’t condone the behaviour of some of the treasure hunters we’ve mentioned above (specifically the pirates). We certainly wouldn’t encourage you to gather a bedraggled motley crew and start rampaging around your local city, wielding cutlasses and nudging hapless bystanders down planks of wood. That being said, though, there is an opportunity for you to try your hand at some treasure hunting of your own.

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