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10 extraordinary treasures that archaeologists have unearthed this year

For as long as humans have been minting coins and crafting beautiful jewelry and other stunning collectibles, an equal number of people have been right behind them searching for these valuable finds. Here are 10 extraordinary discoveries made in 2023 that prove that the hunt for buried treasure never gets old.

1. Massive Coin Collection in Japan

If you look closely, you can see square holes in the middle of the pieces where string could have held them together. (Image credit: Courtesy of Maebashi City)

During a factory construction project north of Tokyo, workers were impressed when they discovered a reserve of approximately 100,000 pieces buried on site. The coin collection was divided into 1,060 bundles and dated between 175 BC and 1265 AD. The first came from China and contained the Chinese inscription “Banliang,” which translates to “half an ounce.” So far, researchers have examined about 334 pieces, and no one knows what other treasures will be revealed.

2. Underwater temple full of sunken treasures in Egypt

A collection of treasures found inside a sunken temple in Egypt. (Image credit: European Institute of Underwater Archeology (IEASM))

Underwater archaeologists exploring a canal off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast have discovered a partially collapsed underwater temple full of treasures. Further exploration of the temple, which collapsed in the mid-2nd century BC and was built for the ancient Egyptian god Amun, has revealed a wealth of “treasures and secrets”, including silver ritual instruments, gold jewelry and alabaster vessels.

3. “Lost” Rainbow Cup minted by the Celts in Germany

The design of the four-pointed star surrounded by four arcs is rare, as there are only three Celtic rainbow cup coins with this design. (Image credit: © Photo Stefanie Friedrich, State Archaeological Collection (Munich))

A 2,000-year-old rainbow cup, struck by the Celts, has been discovered on a riverbank in Germany. THE cup shaped gold coin contains a rare design element: a four-pointed star surrounded by arcs. The find is one of only three known rainbow mugs to contain this design. Rainbow Cups get their name from a Celtic legend that they are drops of gold that fell to Earth at the end of a rainbow.

4. Civil War coins buried in a Kentucky cornfield

About 95% of the treasure is made up of gold dollars dating back to the Civil War. (Image credit: Numismatic Guaranty Co.)

A bounty of 700 Civil War Coins was discovered by a man working in his cornfield in Kentucky. The cache, nicknamed the “Greater Kentucky Treasure,” contained hundreds of gold coins minted between 1840 and 1863, as well as a handful of silver coins. Researchers believe the collection was buried before a Confederate raid in the summer of 1863.

5. An “eye-catching” gold hair ring at a Bronze Age burial in Wales

The small gold ring features an intricate chevron and chevron pattern. (Image credit: © Amgueddfa Cymru — Museum Wales))

A “golden, ostentatious hair ring” was part of a Bronze Age burial discovered along a road in Wales. As archaeologists excavated the burial site, they also unearthed a wooden comb which is believed to be the oldest of its type ever discovered in the UK. Both objects were buried next to the 3,000-year-old cremated remains of a person likely to have had high social status. , the researchers concluded.

6. Bronze Age Swords and Thousands of Medieval Coins in Germany

Archaeologist Detlef Jantzen (left) and Bettina Martin, Minister of Science and Culture, examine the latest archaeological finds in Germany, including Bronze Age swords and thousands of silver coins. (Image credit: Markus Scholz/dpa via Alamy Live News)

A group of volunteer conservationists discovered approximately 8,000 medieval coins and seven Bronze Age swords while working at three separate locations in Germany. Archaeologists believe the 3,000-year-old weapons may have been placed there as part of a sacrificial offering. The coins, distributed in two locations, were part of the largest hoard of Slavic coins from the 11th century.

7. Iron Age glassworks workshop littered with Celtic coins in the Czech Republic

A selection of bracelets and glass beads found in Němčice in the Czech Republic. (Image credit: Ivan Čižmář, et al; Antiquity Publications Ltd)

In the Czech Republic, archaeologists discovered the the oldest known glass workshop north of the Alps, and they believe it may have been used for ritual purposes. The 2,300-year-old workshop contained a number of finished and complete glass and amber objects, including beads and bracelets, as well as 2,000 gold and silver coins minted by Celts. They also found a square structure similar to other ancient buildings located across Europe and used for rituals.

8. Gold necklaces revealed by landslide in Spain

The new discovery resembles this gold bracelet, called a torc. These rigid rings or bracelets were made by the Celts in Spain. (Image credit: Andres Victorero via Getty Images)

Landslide in northern Spain exposed two ‘richly decorated’ gold necklaces which were buried around 2,500 years ago. The first of the C-shaped necklaces, called torques, was discovered by a utility worker, while the second was unearthed by a metal detector. Based on the style and technique used to make the jewelry, archaeologists concluded that the necklaces were made around 500 BC, during the Iron Age in the Iberian Peninsula, and were likely worn by members of the upper class.

9. Coin cache discovered at ancient Buddhist shrine in Pakistan

The hoard of copper coins fused after centuries of corrosion into a single piece weighing about 12 pounds (5.5 kilograms). (Image credit: Sheikh Javed Ali Sindhi)

Archaeologists in Pakistan have discovered a collection of 2,000 year old bronze coins among the ruins of an ancient Buddhist shrine known as a stupa. The coins and shrine are linked to the Kushan Empire, a primarily Buddhist polity that ruled the region from the second century BC until the third century AD. Corrosion caused the parts to fuse into one green-tinted piece that weighs about 12 pounds. (5.5 kilograms).

10. Copper coins hidden in a clay jug in Poland

Archaeologists believe the clay jug containing the horde of coins was deliberately buried on a farm in eastern Poland in the second half of the 17th century. (Image credit: Paweł Ziemuk/WKZ Lublin)

A metal detector searching for tractor spare parts in a farmer’s field in Poland was surprised when he found one treasure of 1,000 copper coins buried under the topsoil. Further excavation revealed a broken clay “siwak” – a locally made jug with a single handle and narrow neck – overflowing with coins minted in Warsaw in the 17th century. However, even when they were in circulation, the coins were not very valuable, and the entire hoard would have been enough at the time to buy “about two pairs of shoes”, according to experts.

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