Finding buried treasure isn’t just something pirates did in the past. Nearly 90 per cent of archaeological artifacts in the UK are found by amateur treasure seekers, who use metal detectors, according to the National Geographic.
Click start to play the Weekend Crossword, where every answer in the puzzle has the letter ‘X’ hidden within it.
When ‘X’ marks the spot on a map, it usually means there is a chance of finding hidden treasure. Today, most of us have traded maps for global positioning systems (GPS) in our phones, but whether we’re looking for treasure buried deep underground, or hiding in plain sight, there are plenty of myths and legends about long-forgotten wealth, or valuable missing artifacts and artworks that have not been discovered yet.
Today, we're going around the world in pursuit of 5 historic treasures that are still up for grabs:
1. Nazi gold in Lake Toplitz
Around the end of the World War II, a Nazi force led by Secret Service officer Ernst Kaltenbrunner apparently sunk an enormous amount of gold in Lake Toplitz, Austria. They did it to keep the allied forces from seizing the wealth – at least, that’s how the legend goes. Since then, however, many searches have been conducted but no gold has been found, so far.
2. Fabergé eggs
In the late 1800s, the Russian jewellery company Fabergé created about 50 ornately decorated eggs for the Russian imperial family. According to their website, the eggs "were the ultimate achievement of the renowned Russian jewellery house and must also be considered the last great commissions of objets d'art”. Then, the Russian revolution happened, which led to the execution of the country’s last czar, Nicholas II, and many other members of the Romanov family. Since then, some of the Fabergé eggs are missing, and rumours abound that they still exist in some private collections around the world.
3. The Florentine diamond
According to historian Gordon Brook-Shepherd, who wrote the book, Uncrowned Emperor: The Life and Times of Otto Von Habsburg, the 133-carat Florentine diamond was “reputed to be the largest pink gem of its type in the world”. The Habsburg royal family possessed the diamond in 1918, when they were deposed after their empire (Austria-Hungary) ended up on the losing side of the First World War. The family placed the gem in a Swiss bank vault, entrusting it to an Austrian lawyer called Bruno Steiner who was supposed to help them sell it, along with their other jewels. What happened next remains unclear. All we know is that Steiner was arrested, charged with fraud and later acquitted. Legend has it that the diamond was recut after the war and now exists as numerous smaller diamonds.
4. Sappho’s lost poems
The Greek lyric poet Sappho (pictured above) had celebrity status in 6 BC, and was considered, at the time, to be one of the finest poets the country had ever produced. Sadly, just few of her poems survive today. However, sections of two poems that had never been seen before were revealed by UK-based University of Oxford papyrologist Dirk Obbink. They were purchased through the antiquities market by an anonymous collector. At one point, the poems were used to make cartonnage for Egyptian mummies (panels or masks that covered their bodies). Where are the rest of Sappho’s poems? From Greece to Egypt and anywhere in between… it’s anybody’s guess.
5. Menkaure’s sarcophagus
Egyptian pharaoh Menkaure’s pyramid is the smallest of the three famed pyramids at Giza, which were constructed around 4,500 years ago. In the 1830s, an English military officer named Howard Vyse explored Giza’s pyramids, sometimes using explosives to blast his way through, without much care for its history or significance. Among his discoveries was a richly decorated sarcophagus, which he found in Menkaure’s pyramid. In 1838, Vyse tried to ship it to England aboard the merchant ship Beatrice. The ship sank while heading there, however, and the sarcophagus was lost at sea. Neither the ship nor the sarcophagus have been found, yet.