Alexander the Great was dead and his heirs were wrangling for control of his now-fractured empire. In the tumult that ensued, an affluent family living in what’s now northern Israel sought to save their fortune and hid a purse of valuables in a remote stalactite cave.
The trove, comprising rare types of silver jewelry, a couple of coins, and black-and-white agate beads hidden in a lamp, lay undisturbed in the limestone cave for over 2,300 years until a group of Israeli spelunkers happened upon them last month.
The rare find sheds light on the lives of ordinary people during the late 4th century BCE, experts said Sunday. That stalactites formed over some of the pottery will help geologists better understand the rate of their growth.
A hobby archaeologist with a metal detector has discovered a trove of gold and silver in a German forest dating back to late Roman times, fuelling speculation that it could be the legendary Nibelung treasure which inspired composer Richard Wagner’s operatic “Ring Cycle”.
The haul from the western state of Rhineland Palatinate, which is worth about €1m, includes silver bowls, brooches and other jewellery from ceremonial robes, as well as small statues that would have adorned a grand chair, archaeologists say.
Amateur archaeologists with metal detectors found 990 items classified as treasure during 2012, according to figures from the British Museum.
All of the rare coins, rings and brooches contain gold or silver, and many date back more than 1,200 years.
The public reported more than 74,000 other historical items to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which experts say has “revolutionised archaeology”.
More than 900,000 objects have been reported since it started in 1997.
The verification process takes several months, which is why the items submitted in 2012 are only being detailed now.
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said the scheme, which launched its annual report today, was “ensuring that finds found by ordinary members of the public are rewriting history.”