Throughout history, human civilizations have used gold, silver, and other precious metals to craft jewelry, coins, bars, and other valuable objects. Many of these historical artifacts lie buried or hidden in various parts of the world, from the fields of Scotland to the tombs of ancient pharaohs in Egypt.
Learning about some of the most notable precious metal discoveries can broaden your understanding of the history of these valuable metals.
If you want to sell precious metal assets or invest in gold, silver, or palladium, contact our knowledgeable staff at AU Precious Metals.
The Gold of King Tut’s Tomb
KV62, Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, was a trove of precious metal artifacts. Despite being hidden by debris and eluding tomb raiders for centuries, the tomb was discovered in 1922 by Egyptologist Howard Carter.
The excavation revealed an exceptional collection of gold artifacts, most notably King Tut’s 22.6 lb. funerary mask. This mask was made of 23-karat gold and inlaid with enamel, lapis-lazuli, carnelian, obsidian, and turquoise gemstones.
Additional precious metal artifacts found in the tomb include:
- Gold coffins. King Tut was interred in a nest of three golden coffins, the innermost of which is made from solid gold.
- Jewelry. Numerous pieces of jewelry made of gold and semi-precious stones.
- Shrines. The sarcophagus was enclosed within a series of four gilded wooden shrines.
- Ritual items. Among the treasures were gold statuettes, Ankh symbols, staffs, ceremonial daggers, a three-foot-tall gold throne, and chariots.
Scottish Silver Hoard
In 2016, archeologists surveyed a rocky field in Gaulcross, Scotland, to learn more about an earlier discovery of treasures in 1838.
The original 19th-century discovery uncovered stone circles dating back to the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, alongside three silver artifacts. These included an ancient ingot, a crescent-shaped pendant, and a piece of hacksilver, which is bent or cut silver used as currency.
When the 2016 team visited the site and conducted a field survey of the area, they discovered a hoard of over 100 additional items dating to the Ancient Roman period, making it one of the largest collections of silver artifacts ever found. The hoard contained numerous coins, brooch pieces, bracelets, and more hacksilver items.
Welcome Stranger Gold Nugget
In 1869, two Cornish miners in southeast Australia found what is now known as the Welcome Stranger, the largest naturally-formed gold nugget ever discovered.
The pair found the nugget in the gold fields of Moliagul, 9 miles east of Dunolly, in the State of Victoria. According to the Museums Victoria, the nugget was buried about one inch under the ground’s surface.
Despite requiring little effort to dig out, it was exceptionally large: about 21 inches long, 10 inches thick, and weighed over 2,280 ounces. The nugget was too large for the bank scales of the time, so the miners broke it up before anyone could make a cast or take a photograph of its original size.
Gold and Silver of the Hoxne Hoard
In 1992, a farmer named Peter Whatling lost a hammer in the farming fields of Hoxne, Suffolk, in the United Kingdom. He asked a friend named Eric Lawes to use his metal-detecting equipment to help him find it.
While scanning the field, Lawes repeatedly picked up signals, digging the land and finding Ancient Roman silver spoons and gold coins. He notified the local archeological society and law enforcement, who resumed the search the next day.
The search yielded a large collection of Ancient Roman artifacts inside a large oak chest containing:
- Gold coins. 569 Ancient Roman solidus gold coins struck during the reigns of Valentinian the Great and Honorius. While the exact purity of Ancient Roman and Byzantine Empire gold coins varied depending on the era, coins struck during these eras were typically made from 24-karat gold.
- Silver coins. 14,272 Ancient Roman silver coins, including 14,212 siliqua and 60 millarense coins.
- Bronze coins. The chest contained 24 Ancient Roman nummus bronze coins.
- Jewelry and silverware. 29 gold jewelry items and 98 pieces of silverware, including spoons and ladles, were found in the chest.
- Miscellaneous silver items. These included a sculpted tigress, bowls, dishes, a beaker, a vase, pepper pots, locks, and a silver chain necklace.
Treasure of Panagyurishte
The collection of nine ancient Thracian artifacts, known today as the Treasure of Panagyurishte, was discovered in December 1949.
Three brothers and tile workers, Pavel, Petko, and Michail Deikov, were working in the central Bulgarian town of Panagyurishte when they accidentally uncovered nine artifacts. The collection includes the following objects:
- A phiale (shallow dish)
- An amphora-rhyton with handles shaped like centaurs
- Three decanters shaped like women’s heads
- Four rhyta (ancient conical drink containers) shaped like animal heads
All nine items were made of 24-karat gold and feature exceptional craftsmanship. In total, the collection weighs 6.1 kilograms or over 13.4 lbs.
According to Bulgarian authorities, these items are believed to have been the possessions of an unnamed Thracian ruler of the Odryssian tribe. The original owner is presumed to be Seuthes III, who reigned from the end of the 4th century B.C. to the start of the 3rd century B.C.
The Treasure of Panagyurishte is considered one of the oldest collections of artifacts ever unearthed. Historians at the National Historical Museum of Sofia, Bulgaria, consider it a priceless collection of artifacts.
Buy or Sell Precious Metal Items with AU Precious Metals
AU Precious Metals is a trusted local precious metals dealer. Whether you have precious metal pieces you want to sell or are looking to grow your wealth by investing, we offer services in Novi and Rochester, Michigan.
We buy gold, silver, rhodium, platinum, and palladium in all forms, from bullion bars and coins to numismatic coins, jewelry, and scrap pieces. You can bring your pieces in or use our mail in service to have them tested using non-invasive X-ray technology for a fair offer.
If you want to invest, our helpful staff can walk you through your options, helping you choose the right metal to diversify your portfolio. Contact us today to sell your unwanted pieces for cash or expand your financial investments with precious metals.