Gold

Anglo-Saxon Hoard

      News reports in September 2009 flashed the exciting story of a treasure find in England by an amateur treasure hunter.  With a metal detector and checking out a farmers land he discovered a seventh-century hoard of gold and silver items.  Over one thousand objects have so far been unearthed.  Initial reports by scholars and archaeologists believe the artwork on the different pieces reveal an Anglo-Saxon time period, about 700 A.D. when England was ruled by Anglo-Saxon tribes from Germany.

     When I first heard about the finding I just assumed the British government would claim the medieval treasure.  As of now it looks as if the items will be auctioned off and the money split between the farmer and the treasure hunter who are friends.  I thought that was cool.  It is assumed they each will receive a very nice financial reward.  The government has not revealed the location in order to keep out looters. 

     I posted a blog article in July 2010 called, “Roman Coins.”  That article touched on the Treasure Act passed in Great Britian in 1996.  The English law encourages treasure hunters, or for that matter anyone lucky enough to discover treasure by happenstance, to work with authorities in order to preserve any historical significance to the find.  The government not only wants to reward the finders but also desires to professionally excavate and evaluate any discoveries.  It seems to be working.  The laws are in place to preserve any cultural clues, exactly what a find such as this one can reveal regarding England’s long and rich history. 

     In addition to gold and silver, some copper items, garnets and glass objects have been excavated.  It is being referred to as the greatest Anglo-Saxon treasure discovery of all time.  Many dozens of crosses and religious artifacts have been found.  One of the objects is a small strip of gold with a Latin quotation saying, “Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face.”   

     Speaking of crosses, one of the situation cards in the TreasureTrove board game talks of discovering some medieval crosses and crucifixes.  I liked the fact that this was part of my board game years before this recent historical treasure finding occurred.  The card reads as follows:

                                    MEDIEVAL ARTIFACTS

            While caving in some caverns in Croatia and Kosovo uncover

            caskets containing carved crucifixes and crusaders’ crosses.

                                          Keep this card

                                 REWARD:  TEN MILLION    

            Please visit our website at TreasureTrovegame.com

Santa Anna’s Gold

University Library

    It was quiet as I browsed the shelves looking for treasure.  Quiet as a library should be, as they used to be.  The year was 1989 and I was searching for books that would inform me of the world’s greatest lost treasures.  Pirate loot, diamond mines, sunken ships, buried gold; whatever I could get my hands on, or at least what I could read about in a book.  I had no illusions of ever actually going to dig and find any treasure but I wanted my imagination to journey to far away destinations.  Good books allow a person to escape.  This was before the Internet had come of age; a time when research was hands on, hours at a time sorting through books at a library.  Today I can accomplish in few hours on the Internet what may have taken weeks to complete just a few years ago.

      I have a reflective personality so I have always enjoyed libraries.  When I was in college I would often retreat from the noise of the dorm to find a quiet chair or nook in the library in order to study.  Last year I went to meet my son at the library on his college campus I felt out of place.  There were computers everywhere.  Students were chatting, while others placed their order for coffee.  When I inquired as to where the books are, an attendant politely informed me the books are on the other floors.   I went upstairs to find the books but do not recall it being much quieter than the commotion of the computer floor.  Libraries are a different atmosphere than when I was in college almost 40 years ago.   

     Browsing for Spanish treasure I pulled a few books off the shelves here and there.  Suddenly, my ears picked up on a conversation between two men.  It sounded like they were discussing treasure.  I paused to hear every word of the two voices.  They were indeed talking about treasure: lost treasure.  They were on the other side of the bookshelf so I could not see them.  Could they actually be talking treasure at the exact time I came to the library to search that subject?  I paused and strained to hear more.  It got quiet.  I shuffled a book or two until the conversation began again.  I quieted to listen.  Then they stopped again.  I fidgeted with the shelf intentionally making more noise than usual.  One voice was perceptibly louder and I recognized it as belonging to an older gentleman that I knew had worked in the library for many years.  I discerned he was trying to help the other subdued male voice. 

     I rounded the corner of the bookshelf pretending to be looking for a specific book when I was actually trying to collect more of their conversation.  They immediately paused as my eyes careened the books in their section.  They were about eight feet away when the older library worker directly but politely asked, “Are you looking for something in particular?” 

     I panicked and was afraid they could tell I was eavesdropping.  I had hoped I wasn’t so obvious.  “Oh, I’m looking for books on Spanish,” I replied.   I was actually taking a course at the university on Spanish at the time so my conscious wasn’t bothered about the convenient out.  “One aisle over” he replied.  “Thank you,” I responded, as I meandered back to where I had been.  As I continued to listen, I realized they were indeed talking about treasure and one nearby to where I lived in West Central Texas.  I waited until they parted company.

     As the older man was leaving I asked him for a moment of his time.  “Sure, what can I help you with,” he said.  I informed him I was trying to make a board game for my children whereby they could travel the world collecting treasure and I was in the library searching for famous lost treasure and had come to this section looking for Spanish treasure.  However, I admitted, I had overheard him talking about treasure and would it not be too intrusive to inquire what treasure they had discussed.  “The treasure of Santa Anna,” he said.  “I have never heard of such and I know my Texas history fairly well,” I responded.  “Well there is no such thing,” he replied waiting for me to ask the next question.   “But I heard you inform the other man of a reported lost treasure not far from here belonging to Santa Anna?”

     “That is correct,” he said, “but not General Santa Anna, the town of Santa Anna, or Chief Santa Anna’s gold.  Are you familiar with the small town of about 1000 people 70 miles south?”  I informed him I have driven through it dozens of time over the last 20 years.  “Supposedly Chief Santa Anna’s lost treasure is buried somewhere in the vicinity of the town,” he said.  I told him I had heard of Chief Santana but  not Chief Santa Anna.  He then proceeded to tell me the story.

Chief Santana

“The town was originally named after Santana, an Indian Chief who fought the U. S. Army.   There was another Indian Chief years before him named Santa Anna who also fought against the U. S. Army.  He is the one who was rumored to have captured some gold and buried it in the mountains nearby the town.  That gold has never been found.  That is the supposed treasure of Santa Anna.  Sometime around 1980, the townspeople applied for a U. S. post office.  They wanted to name the town after Chief Santana who had recently attained some fame fighting in the Texas panhandle.  The authorities back East thought the Texas people had misspelled the name.  The U.S. government returned the official title of the town as Santa Anna rather than Santana.  The folks in Washington had heard of General Santa Anna but not Chief Santana.  They assumed the Texans just misspelled the name on the application.  The people in Santana had their post office and decided to leave the name  Santa Anna rather than reapply.  Almost 150 years later it remains Santa Anna and the lost treasure has yet to be discovered.”

     Several decades have passed since I had that conversation.  I admit it was a little confusing sorting out General Santa Anna, Chief Santa Anna and Chief Santana.  It was an interesting story and if I heard his version correctly the older gentlemen did not have the facts in order.  I did some of my own historical search to find the truth. 

     First, the naming of the town has never had anything to do with General Santa Anna, and probably nothing to do with Chief Santana.  There actually was a Penateka Comanche Chief named Santa Anna who fought the Texas Rangers and U.S. Army during the 1830’s and 40’s until his death in 1849.  His resistance was in the exact area of the present day town.  An area in central Texas that is relatively flat except for two prominent twin mesas.  When an eventual settlement of white pioneers was built at the base of the mountains during the 1860’s the early inhabitants referred to them as Santa Anna’s Peaks.  The Indians had often sent smoke signals from them while resisting encroachment from the whites.  Chief Santa Anna died very close to where the town is today.

     The more famous Chief Santana was a Kiowa (also an Indian tribe from Texas) but his exploits at resisting the Anglos was more on the Texas panhandle into Oklahoma and Kansas, not in the area of the present day city of Santa Anna in Central Texas.  He died in 1878 and was indeed more famous when the town applied for a post office in 1879, but it is doubtful the townspeople had Santana on the application.  Notable Texas historian Rupert Richardson recorded from his research that the town was named after Chief Santa Anna’s twin peaks.  It had been referred to as such for decades when the inhabitants applied for a postal office.  Chances are the folks in Washington had actually heard of Chief Santana but for whatever reason they got it right in naming the town Santa Anna.   The truth is the name on the application was probably Santa Anna and not Santana as some have rumored.  There would be no reason for the people in Washington to have cared one way or the other.  It just makes for a good story to imply that the bureaucrats back East thought those dumb Texans did not know how to spell.     

Santa Anna's Peaks

     I found no information in books or on the Internet regarding any buried gold from Chief Santa Anna.  I continue to drive through the town of Santa Anna several times a year going South to visit San Antonio as I have done so for almost 40 years.  I now l take more notice of the peaks nestled around the town.  I did not dig with a shovel, but I can assure you I did some digging in my search for Santa Anna’s gold in order to write this.  I also admit I thoroughly enjoyed my 10 minutes of eavesdropping.

     If you would like to explore a board game that allows players to travel the world collecting treasures please go to www.treasuretrovegame.com                                                                              

                                                                                                                   

Golden Elephant

white with formal dress

 

 

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It would be quite a spectacle to indeed see something made of gold as big a as an elephant.  History has recorded many large statues and objects carved in wood being overlaid in gold, so in that sense it would be easily possible, especially in Southeast where elephants are revered and part of their cultural history. 

King Solomon’s Temple had many large columns and structures covered with gold.  Historians belief the fabled golden statue of Zeus indeed existed and was gold overlayed a wooden statue.  My favorite image of a large golden object is described in one of the Old Testament books called Daniel.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was said to have built a 90 foot golden statue of himself for all to bow and worship.  Babylon was one of the ancient world’s largest empires.  It had swallowed up all the other empires around it.  It was indeed powerful, rich and was at the height of its power under King Nebuchadnezzar.

I was watching the history channel one evening and caught an interesting show called, “Around the World in 80 Treasures.”  The narrator is a British man who spent months traveling the world researching famous and legendary treasures. 

He is a great host and I really enjoyed being invited along on his journey.  This particular episode covered part of Southeast Asia where he visited a museum in Thailand that houses a Golden

golden elephant

Elephant.  I anxiously waited to see it, and sure enough there it was.  Not as big as an actual elephant by any means.  In reality, 0nly about two feet in size.  It is a treasure to the people of Thailand.  In fact, that same museum houses a treasure-trove of other golden artifacts.

Legend has it that there were actually originally two such elephants. However, one was stolen many years ago.  Let us hope it is still around somewhere but the reality is that it was probably melted down many years ago and is long gone.

Speaking of elephants, what about the White Elephant?

When I hear, “white elephant,” I think of a party where each participant brings an item that neither they nor anyone else would want.  I have never actually been to such a get together but I hear they can be fun.  I suppose a gift exchange takes place and the enjoyment is laughing at the ridiculous items brought to exchange with no ill will intended.  Other than that, I’m not sure when the term came into use in America.

white elephantTo the peoples of India and Southeast Asia a white elephant has a totally different connotation.  Elephants have always been revered in the cultures in that part of the world.  Monarchs of ancient Siam kept white elephants believing it brought peace and prosperity while helping them rule with justice and power.  On the other hand some have written that the Kings of Siam would give someone of importance that had had fallen into ill repute a white elephant in order to task them with the challenge of taking care of the animal. 

Albino elephants are extremly rare and are considered by modern people of Southeast Asia to be a holy omen if you see one in the wild. In 2004, one was found on the island of Sri Lanka and is considered a “new national treasure.”

boxtopTo Learn more about the game go to www.TreasureTroveGame.com

Bactrian Hoard

 

 bactria-headdress

logoHistorians and archeologists have long been intrigued by the prospect of finding the lost treasures of this famous Greek conqueror.  Perhaps finding just a portion of the wealth his vast empire acquired would be one of the greatest treasure findings of all time.  It has indeed been a long time.  He lived over 23 centuries ago, so the chances of anything new being discovered seem to be wishful thinking at best, but that is what  happened just a few years ago.

Russian archeologists in Afghanistan in 1978 discovered a large cache of gold artifacts.  It was actually a hoard of over 20,000 ancient gold ornaments dating back to the 3rd century B.C. when Alexander the Great conquered the mountainous terrain of the world known today as Afghanistan.  He proceeded on into India but died there of disease at the young age of 33.  The art work on the artifacts reflects the presence and influence of the Greeks and their army.  This unbelievable discovery is called the Bactrian Hoard.  composite-500

In 1978 the Russians invaded Afghanistan; however the President of Afghanistan secretly hid the recently found treasure from the invaders.  Fortunately, it was also kept safe from the Taliban rulers during the 1990’s after the Russians had left.  In the early years of the 21st century the Taliban were driven out of the country.  Those who had secretly hidden the treasure from foreign invaders in 2003 helped relocate it and returned it to the rightful owners of the treasure, that is, the people of Afghanistan.  It is considered one of history’s greatest archeological collections and let us hope it stays well preserved, revealing the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan.

48-crown-300The treasure of Alexander the Great is not one of the treasures to be collected while playing the TreasureTrove board game, but it is a fascinating story and is briefly mentioned in the booklet  that comes with the game footnoting some of the world’s greatest treasure findings.

To learn more about the game go to www.TreasureTroveGame.com  boxtop