Monday, 29 August 2016

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple

The Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in Thiruvananthapuram, India.

The temple and its assets belong to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, and are controlled by a trust run by the Royal family.

In June 2011, the Supreme Court directed authorities to open the secret chambers of the temple for inspection of the items kept inside. Some had not been opened in centuries.

The review of the temple's underground vaults led to the enumeration of a vast inventory of the temple's assets, which consist of gold, jewels, and other valuables. 18th century Napoleonic era coins were found, as well as a three-and-a-half foot tall solid gold idol of Mahavishnu studded with rubies and emeralds.

Ceremonial attire adorning the deity was in the form of a gold anki weighing almost 30 kilograms (66 lb).
It is estimated that the value of the items is close to 1.2 lakh crore or 1.2 trillion (US$22 billion) This makes the Padmanabhaswamy temple the wealthiest temple in India and almost certainly the world.

The treasures accumulated in the temple for centuries, put there by generations of the Maharajahs of Travancore.

Vault B door with Cobra guardians
It was announced that a new hidden treasure vault had been discovered beyond the already documented Vault B. Adding to recent treasure findings in other vaults, researchers are estimating the total treasure could total over $1.5 trillion.

The temple has been shrouded in mystery and superstition. Two enormous Cobras are rumored to be protecting the innermost hidden chamber.
Legend holds that anyone who opens the vault will be met with certain doom.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Inside the 2015 North Carolina $4.8M gold bar heist


16 months ago, a truck that was on its way to Massachusetts to deliver gold bars worth millions, was intercepted by three armed men near Wilson, North Carolina. Now the FBI has revealed how thieves used high-tech gizmos to make off with gold.

Agents identified the alleged ringleader as Adalberto Perez, 46. He was arrested in March at his home in the Miami suburb of Opa-Locka, Florida, almost exactly a year after the March 2015 robbery in Wilson County, North Carolina. Two accomplices remain at large. It appears the case was cracked when a friend of Perez came forward. According to an FBI affidavit unsealed in federal court, the friend said Perez spent about a year preparing for the heist.

Ringleader of the heist was Adalberto Perez
Perez used a GPS tracking device under the TransValue trailer in order to track its location and he also rigged a pepper-spray device inside the cab.

The truck's cab suddenly filled with pepper spray, launched by a remote control, forcing the drivers to pull over. The two security guards working for TransValue Inc of Miami were approached by three armed men who were driving a white van behind them. The men claimed they were police officers and then tied them up.

Then they put out orange traffic cones to make the stopped truck appear innocuous, and wore reflective clothing to appear as though they belonged on the roadside. The thieves then cut off trailer's locks, quickly unloaded 275 pounds of gold and about 40 silver coins into the van, and sped off, leaving numerous drums of silver behind.

Perez sold all of the gold he kept from the robbery, and used the money to buy three homes, three Nissan vehicles and a boat. He also had some gold fashioned into jewelry, some of it featuring religious icons, according to the FBI. After the informant came forward, investigators were able to use cellphone tower records to show that a phone linked to Perez traveled north through Florida along the same I-95 route as the truck that day.

Perez remained in jail without bail on federal robbery and firearms charges. The FBI said additional suspects are being sought, and a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction still stands. The FBI distributed sketches of two other robbers based on information from witnesses. Only a single gold bar was ever recovered, but prosecutors will seek to seize property and assets of those involved.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Galloway Viking Hoard

The Galloway Hoard is a hoard of more than 100 gold and silver objects from the Viking age discovered in Dumfries and Galloway in south-west Scotland in September 2014. The hoard has been described by experts as one of the most significant Viking hoards ever found in Scotland.
It was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast who reported the find to the authorities. A county archaeologist carried out an excavation which revealed the presence of a variety of jewellery from various parts of the Viking world. It is thought that the hoard was buried some time in the mid-ninth or tenth century.

The hoard consists of a variety of gold and silver objects including armbands, a Christian cross, brooches, ingots, and what is possibly the largest silver Carolingian pot ever discovered. The items among the treasure originated across a wide geographic area that includes Ireland, Scandinavia, and central Europe.
Medieval texts date the arrival of the Vikings in the British Isles to the 790s A.D., when fierce raiders appeared along the coasts, plundering rich monasteries and terrorizing local communities. During the three centuries that followed, ambitious Viking chiefs and their followers arrived to conquer and colonize territories in England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, until they and their descendants were finally defeated or assimilated.

Around the early 10th century Viking forces had suffered a serious setback in Ireland, and local Galloway folklore “referred to a Viking army being defeated by a Scots army” at a Galloway locale.
In the upper layer, the team excavated a gold, bird-shaped pin as well as 67 silver ingots and arm rings, many produced by metalworkers in Ireland. This portable silver served as ready cash in the Viking world: the elite hacked off pieces to buy cattle or other commodities, reward loyal followers, or “pay off the troops” in Viking mercenary armies.
Three inches below that trove, researchers found the Carolingian pot, a lidded metal vessel buried upside down, perhaps to keep out ground water. It turned out to be packed with treasures, many carefully swathed in leather and fine textiles. Only six of these Carolingian vessels have ever been found, and many scholars believe they were used during important ceremonies in the Catholic Church.

The hoard has some similarities with other Viking finds, but its mixture of gold, silver, glass, enamel, and textiles is unique

Sunday, 21 August 2016

1,500-year-old tomb unearthed in China contains spectacular golden jewelry

A 1,500-year-old tomb unearthed in China was found to contain spectacular golden jewelry inlaid with gemstones and amethysts.

Burials from the Northern Wei Dynasty have yielded beautiful gold earrings, but experts have said the earrings discovered in this tomb are the most exquisite to have been found.
The burial was discovered in Datong City, Shanxi Province. Datong City was founded in 200BC and located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia. It flourished and became a resting place for camel caravans traveling from China to Mongolia.

Around the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the same era as the burial, Datong became the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty. This was the period that the famous Yungang Grottoes were constructed.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Unlooted imperial tomb of the Wari found


A winged creature adorns an ear ornament worn by an elite Wari woman.
The Wari lords have long been overshadowed by the later Inca. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Wari built an empire that spanned much of present-day Peru. Their Andean capital, Huari, became one of the world's great cities.

At its zenith, Huari boasted a population conservatively estimated at about 40,000 people. Paris, by comparison, had just 25,000 residents at the time.
More than 60 skeletons were inside the tomb, including three Wari queens buried with gold and silver jewellery and brilliantly-painted ceramics. Many mummified bodies were found sitting upright - indicating royalty.
The archaeologists say the tomb was found in El Castillo de Huarmey, about 280km (175 miles) north of Lima. Forensic archaeologist Wieslaw Wieckowski says the way other bodies were positioned indicated human sacrifice.

In all, the archaeological team has found the remains of the Wari queens, gold pieces, ceramics and skeletons about 1,300 years old.

"Six of the skeletons we found in the grave were not in the textiles. They were placed on the top of the other burials in very strange positions, so we believe that they were sacrifices," he said.

The Wari civilization thrived from the 7th to 10th centuries AD, conquering all of what is now Peru before a mysterious and dramatic decline.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Roman gold ring that inspired J.R.R Tolkien?

Britain's National Trust and the Tolkien Society put an artifact on display for fans of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" to decide for themselves whether this was Tolkien's precious ring of power.
The Vyne Ring or the Ring of Silvianus is a gold ring, dating probably from the 4th century, discovered in a ploughed field near Silchester, in Hampshire, England, in 1785. It was originally the property of a British Roman called Silvianus. The gold ring is inscribed in Latin, "Senicianus live well in God," and inset with an image of the goddess Venus. It is larger than average, weighing about 12 grams. The ring is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found separately at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to a god named Nodens in Gloucestershire, western England.
The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returned it to the temple.

An archeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929.