2. Dead Sea Scrolls’ Treasure Map
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a well known set of parchments discovered throughout the Judaean Desert in Israel. Their cultural, historical and religious significance is invaluable and have shed light on the intricacies and diversity of many ancient cultures.
One unique entry to the Dead Sea Scrolls is a copper scroll, known as 3Q15, that details 64 locations that contain lost treasure. It was discovered in a cave near Khirbet, Qumran, and is vastly different to the other parchments that make up the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Etched into the copper scroll are phrases and symbols from long lost languages.
Once scholars partly deciphered the strange mix of Ancient Hebrew and Greek, they were puzzled to find that it actually details the whereabouts of lots of hidden treasure – gold and silver nuggets currently valued at around US$1.2 billion!
Translating the ancient document has proven difficult as it comprises of words and phrases from ancient Hebrew that historians have never seen. The bulk of ancient Hebrew that is known and used by scholars comes from biblical texts. The vocabulary used in the Copper Scrolls is completely different. Some experts believe that the text seen on the scroll may actually have been transcribed from an original parchment by an illiterate scribe, making the task of deciphering the instructions far more difficult.
Harder still, a treasure hunter hoping to find their fortune on the instructions of the scrolls would have to have an intimate knowledge of 1st century Israel geography.
Here’s an example of the translated text:
“Forty two talents lie under the stairs in the salt pit … Sixty five bars of gold lie on the third terrace in the cave of the old Washers House … Seventy talents of silver are enclosed in wooden vessels that are in the cistern of a burial chamber in Matia’s courtyard. Fifteen cubits from the front of the eastern gates, lies a cistern. The ten talents lie in the canal of the cistern … Six silver bars are located at the sharp edge of the rock which is under the eastern wall in the cistern. The cistern’s entrance is under the large paving stone threshold. Dig down four cubits in the northern corner of the pool that is east of Kohlit. There will be twenty two talents of silver coins.” (DSS 3Q15, col. II, translation by Hack and Carey.)
Without knowing the reference points, it makes finding the tonnes of gold and silver extremely difficult.
For those would-be treasure hunters out there, there is a replica of the Copper Scrolls on display at the Jordan Museum in Amman. Perhaps some new insight could be discovered unveiling the exact locations of the the vast fortunes of gold and silver that lie waiting, covered in sand and ruin, just begging to be claimed.
1. Yamashita’s Gold
Filipino legends tell of a hidden treasure, known as Yamashita’s Gold, looted by the Japanese Army in World War 2. They say there’s a cave filled with gold bars, priceless gems and a solid gold Buddha statue just waiting to be found. Historians estimate the legendary cache of riches could be worth tens of billions of dollars.
As World War 2 raged on it’s alleged that Japanese soldiers, under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, looted various countries throughout South East Asia. It’s thought that they stole priceless artifacts, gold bullion, rare gemstones and art. Then prior to the war ending in 1945, it’s alleged that the soldiers stashed the treasure in up to 145 different caves and tunnels throughout the Philippines.
The tantalising value of these lost riches has spurred on treasure hunters for over 50 years. The lure of finding the lost treasure has caused a number of reported deaths, huge financial losses, countless sleepless nights and even one of the largest legal payouts in history.
In 1988, treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas, filed a lawsuit against the Filipino prime-minister at the time Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos, for the theft of the treasure and human rights violations.
Roxas claimed that with the help of two Japanese army officials, including Yamashita’s interpreter, he was able to map out the exact location of the famous lost treasure. He then formally applied for a treasure hunting license from a relative of Marcos, Judge Pio Marcos.
Then in 1971, it’s alleged that Roxas and a band of fellow treasure hunters uncovered an enclosed chamber that housed samurai swords, army radios and the skeletal remains of Japanese soldiers dressed in uniform. Among the find, he claims there was a 3-foot high golden buddha statue that weighed approximately 1000 kilos, it sat beside several stacked crates. Roxas said he only looked in one crate and it was filled with gold bullion. Confident with his find, he sealed up the chamber for safekeeping to return at a later date to transport the treasure.
According to Roxas, not long after finding the lost treasure, Ferdinand Marcos had Roxas beaten and arrested, confiscating the gold Buddha and crates of gold bars.
In 1988, in a Hawaiian court, Roxas sued Mr and Mrs. Marcos for the theft of the Buddha statue and gold bullion, along with human rights violations.
Suspiciously, Roxas died the day before the trial was scheduled to begin. However, he had already given his testimony that would later be used as evidence in the case.
In 1996, Roxas’ estate had the dispute ruled in his favour. He was awarded US$22 billion, which with interest increased to $40.5 billion. At the time it was the highest awarded judgement in history. However, the Hawaii Supreme Court lowered the amount granted, stating that the evidence was too speculative and that there was no way of knowing the quality or quantity of the found treasure. The final hearing was for the golden Buddha and 17 gold bars only. Finally, the Roxas estate was awarded a little over US$19 million – a far cry from the original sum of $40 billion.
In 1992, Imelda Marcos outright admitted that Yamashita’s gold accounted for the bulk of her husbands wealth.
Some historians speculate that Roxas found only was a small portion of Yamashita’s gold and that there’s still more out there.
In early 2017, this video clip emerged of treasure hunters who claim they found more lost treasure in a cave in the Philippines.
In the video we see several men in a muddy cave wearing diving suits. They brush sediment and dirt off what appears to be dozens of gold bars. The men in the clip alleged that the treasure was booby trapped with explosives, possibly dating back to World War 2.
There appears to be no information on who these treasure hunters are or whether the find has been authenticated, so it’s hard to comment on whether the footage is real.
Some believe that this is another small portion of Yamashita’s gold and that there is still more treasure scattered throughout the Philippines waiting to be found.
If you believe you’ve got what it takes to be the next Indiana Jones, you can actually apply for treasure hunting permits through the National Museum of the Philippines.