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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (06/2004) Headlines (05/2004) Headlines (07/2004)   Vol. 38 June 2004 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the June 2004 edition of W&ET Magazine


A man digging a fishpond in his backyard has unearthed thousands of 4th century Roman bronze coins, archaeologists said recently.

Museum experts believe it could be the largest hoard of coins from the period ever found in Britain.

"We estimate that, based on weight, there are between 15,000 and 20,000 individual coins," said Gail Boyle, curator of archaeology at Bristol Museum.

"This is the most amazing find of treasure in our area in the last 30 years. It's extremely exciting. I've never come across anything remotely like this."

Ken Allen, of Thornbury in southwest England, who found the large ceramic vessel of coins, is likely to receive a reward equal to the coins' current market value from the museum that eventually shows the pieces.

"My old garden pond was only inches away from the spot where we discovered the coins," Allen said recently. "I have planted trees in this area, so I was really surprised I hadn't discovered it before now. The pot was perfectly upright."

Kurt Adams, from the Gloucestershire & Avon Portable Antiquities Scheme, said the coins identified so far can be attributed to Constantine the Great (AD 307-337).

"So far they seem to consist of three different types which show soldiers in between two standards, twins suckling from a she-wolf and Victory on the prow of a boat."

The mint marks- letters or symbols used to indicate the mint which produced the coin- suggest Trier in Germany, and Constantinople (now Istanbul), in Turkey, he added.

Some are in such good condition they may never have been in circulation.

From The Toronto Sun, submitted by Rod King, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


It had been shuffled between the pages of an old book, stacked in a dark corner of a garage in Anderson. On its face, it looked to be worth $100.

To Mealody Brulotte, the piece of paper she found in her father's treasure-trove of old toys, clothes and letters was nothing more than a beautiful heirloom. Dating from 1871, it had been given to her dad by a great-aunt who was childless. "I was going to bring it home and frame it," Brulotte said. "At first, I took it to an antique shop. And they said, "Oh no!' And I got to thinking."

Now she's wondering whether the 133-year-old bond issued by Greenville County to raise money for the construction of a railroad could be worth more. A lot more. So is a Clemson University professor of investment. So are two independent experts in old financial documents. And so is Brulotte's attorney, Harold Threlkeld.

Threlkeld said there's no reason why the bond, which bore interest at 7 percent annually, compounded twice a year, isn't worth more than $300,000. The bond matured in 1887.

He served notice to Greenville County that his client intended to redeem it within 30 days.

County Treasurer Jill Kintigh conferred with the county attorney and gave her reply: No way. Unless coupons that were attached to the original bond were still intact, it was worthless, Kintigh said. None was attached.

But $300,000 could be just a drop in the bucket, Brulotte said. The experts, she said, are investigating the possibility that the bond might be worth much more based on stock in the successors of the Atlanta and Richmond Railway Co., which became Southern Railway.

Clemson University professor of investments John Alexander said he wouldn't talk about that part of the investigation, which he's doing with two other experts who are working independently of each other. But he said it's rare to find an old bond issued by an entity that's still in operation.

From The Post and Courier, submitted by Stephen & Julie Buckler, Walterboro, SC.


A group of volunteer archaeologists are breaking new ground by helping to unearth an old frontier fort near the Indiana border.

Development has covered much of the former Fort Green Ville in Darke County. But more than 1,000 Revolutionary War artifacts have been found during the past two years through excavations started by podiatrist David Cox, a Greenville native.

Cox enlisted the help of about a dozen volunteers and archaeologist Tony DeRegnaucourt, from nearby Arcanum, to help plot the excavations and work at the site.

Fort Green Ville originally consisted of eight square buildings in a rough protective circle of about 50 acres, but only one of the blockhouses appeared not to have fallen victim to surface development, according to a map of the site drawn by a soldier more than 200 years ago.

Cox said he and the volunteer archaeologists initially didn't expect much from the map.

"We did our excavation and found out it was extremely accurate," he said.

DeRegnaucourt led efforts to retrace the foundation of Blockhouse No. 8, which was 100 feet long and 85 feet wide.

"After 200 years, all you get is a stain," DeRegnaucourt said. "We felt lucky to find the log stains below the plow depth."

Color-coded flags now dot the site, identifying spots where artifacts such as horseshoes, musket balls, eating utensils and buttons were found. Each item is preserved and cataloged, with the Greenville Treaty Bicentennial Commission and private donations covering the $18,000 cost.

The site was a key in the U.S. defense line that stretched from Fort Washington in Cincinnati to Maumee in northwest Ohio, said David Simmons, an editor of the Ohio Historical Society's Timeline magazine. It was built at the direction of Maj. Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne to house his Army during the winter of 1793-1794.

Wayne marshaled about 3,000 men to defend the frontier line of the Northwest Territory, which later became Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

From The Courier, submitted by Jeffrey Hauenstein, Findlay, OH.


A team working at a local archaeological dig said it made one of the most remarkable finds in the nine-year history of the site recently.

According to site leader Tad Baker, excavators unearthed a Catholic ring at the Chadbourne homestead site, which now leads to some interesting and difficult questions.

According to Baker, the brass ring inscribed with "IHS" was found during excavations just outside of Structure 2, which team members think was a barn or outbuilding. The inscription stands for "Isus hominis salvator"- Latin for "Jesus the savior of man." It was a variety of Jesuit ring, a ring often given to native Americans by French Catholic priests or bartered to them by French fur traders.

When a reporter arrived, Baker excitedly dug the brown- and gold-colored ring out of a film canister.

Several Jesuit rings have been found in Maine at Native American village sites and the sites of French trading posts, but the Chadbourne ring is the first to be discovered on an English site in Maine.

It is unknown how the ring came to be there.

According to Baker, it seems unlikely Puritan merchants such as the Chadbournes would have traded in Catholic rings. However, some French ceramics have been found on the site, suggesting the Chadbournes did occasionally trade with the French.

It is more likely the ring was lost by a Native American who came to the site. Humphrey Chadbourne was a fur trader, so many Indians would have visited the property to trade their furs for European goods.

It is even possible the ring was lost by one of the French soldiers or Native American warriors who destroyed the Chadbourne site during the 1690 Salmon Falls raid.

The Chadbourne homestead itself dates to between 1650-1690. At the time, the homestead was one of the largest dwellings in New England.

During the 1600s the Chadbournes operated one of the earliest water-powered sawmills in North America.

The complex was ultimately burned following an Indian raid. The site sits at the intersection of the Great Works and Salmon Falls rivers. Due to all the trade that was occurring at this time, this area would have been an important spot.

Fewer than 20 people were actively digging at the site recently, including Baker and other archaeologists and local volunteers. The work is taking place under a canopy set in the middle of a field near the river.

At the time, the homestead would have commanded a view of both rivers, although a screen of trees has since grown up.

The field is dotted with red and blue flags laying out grid for further digs.

Work on the site is sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society. The society's museum is home to many artifacts that have been found at the site, many of which are currently on display.

The second day of excavation was held in late February. The team brought in a ground-penetrating radar in an attempt to map a wooden palisade. In previous years, they had found traves of a trench the team believes had marked a defensive wall.

Work will continue until August 22 this year, however outdoor fieldwork will run to August 15. Historical society members are eligible to work as dig volunteers, however, visitors are welcome at any time. Training will be provided. Information on signing up for the project is available by calling (207) 748-0074.

The museum itself is open during the summer from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and on Sunday by appointment.

From the Portsmouth Herald, submitted by Ken Reckart, Seffner, FL.


Archaeologists working alongside Kaho"olawe clearance crews have found a treasure trove of artifacts, including roughly 650 more "features" than were previously known to exist.

"Considering the arid environment, the erosion and the use by the military, we were surprised at how many newly discovered sites there were," said Hal Hammatt of Cultural Surveys Hawaii, the Navy's archaeology contractor.

The discoveries were part of the largest archaeological project in Hawaii history, a six-year $12 million effort that was integrated into the $400 million federally funded cleanup of unexploded ordnance from the former military bombing range.

The archaeologists discovered new examples of every type of archaeological feature and sites, ranging from ancient fishing shrines to a habitation complex on the south slope of Lua Makika, the island's 1,477-foot summit, as well as a major petroglyph field.

A feature is a distinct physical aspect of a site that is treated as a separate entity. Examples might include building foundations or burials.

As the Navy's contractor continues to haul away unexploded ordnance, the Kaho"olawe Island Reserve Commission is preparing to transform the 45-square-mile island into a cultural preserve.

Recently, commissioners heard for the first time the far-ranging scope of cultural material identified on the island.

Hammatt said nearly 3,000 features were recorded. The original archaeological survey conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s identified 2,377 features.

During the cleanup project, 20 archaeologists examined all 11,500 of the island's square-meter grids.

The artifacts were mapped, photographed and catalogued in a computerized database that will be turned over to the commission.

"The amount of data is fantastic; it's absolutely tremendous," said Stanton Enomoto, the commission's acting executive director. "It is one of the most important legacies of this project, and it will provide years and years of interpretation."

James Putnam, the project's civilian director, put it this way: "There must be a thousand Ph.D. theses out there."

Hammatt said there's a greater concentration of archaeological artifacts on Kaho"olawe than any other Hawaiian island, with the possible exception of Ni"ihau, which has yet to be studied.

The bounty of artifacts is not necessarily a reflection of the level of human activity, he said, but of the fact that the island escaped the destructive forces of human population and development. The uninhabited island was a ranch before it was confiscated by the military at the start of World War II.

"It's pretty amazing how little impact the bombing did have (on the artifacts)," he said.

Hammatt said the study confirmed the island's economic activities were primarily agriculture, fishing and quarrying adze tools.

The most striking aspect of Kaho"olawe's archaeology, he said, is the number of sites and features exposed by erosion at the top of the island.

Many sites were found close to the Lua Makika crater, the island's agricultural breadbasket. Most of them, Hammatt said, were on the southwest side of the summit in order to be shielded from the winds channeling through the isthmus of Maui.

Also noteworthy are the relatively undisturbed and pristine valley sites on the north coast. Hammatt said he would get chicken skin amid the concentration of ancient sites, leaving him with "a sense of origin."

"It's like there's a house site here and a house site there, and you have to physically watch your step. It's an amazing place."

From The Honolulu Advertiser, submitted by Ron Paul Smith, Honolulu, HI.


Two Virginia battlefields sitting just outside designated protected land were named recently by a preservation group as two of the country's most endangered Civil War battlefields.

The battle of Chancellorsville is legendary among military historians as a masterful execution of a daring Confederate plan, but one that cost the South one of its most valuable leaders, Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

A 790-acre chunk of the battlefield, about halfway between Richmond and Washington, D.C., is the focal point of a furious modern-day battle pitting the demands of suburban sprawl against preservationists trying to keep as much of the land empty as possible.

Farther to the south and east, the 7,800-acre Henrico County site of the 1862 battle of Glendale saw some of the war's worst hand-to-hand combat, as well as about 6,500 casualties as Union soldiers retreated. It, too, faces the possibility of development.

Other sites designated on the Civil War Preservation Trust's top 10 endangered list are Fort Donelson and Franklin in Tennessee; South Mountain, MD.; Wilson's Creek, MO.; Morris Island, S.C.; New Bern, N.C.; Mansfield, LA.; and the "Hell Hole" northwest of Atlanta.

The group selected the sites based on geography, military significance and the immediacy of the development threat.

Jim Lighthizer, head of the trust, said the Chancellorsville site "is of extraordinary significance in any way you can evaluate it," and called Glendale one of the few pieces of threatened land "that had so much actual fighting" on it.

From The Associated Press, submitted by Chadwic T. Anderson, Bedford, VA.

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