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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (02/2005) Headlines (01/2005) Headlines (03/2005)   Vol. 39 February 2005 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the February 2005 edition of W&ET Magazine


Archaeologists in northwestern England have found a burial site of six Viking men and women, complete with swords, spears, jewelry, fire-making materials and riding equipment, officials said recently.

The site, discovered near Cumwhitton, is believed to date to the early 10th century, and archaeologists working there called it the first Viking burial ground found in Britain.

The only other known Viking cemetery was found in Ingleby east of Cumwhitton.

It was excavated in the 1940s, but the bodies had been cremated and not buried.

The Vikings, inhabitants of Scandinavia from 800 to 1100, traded with, and ridded, much of Europe, often settling there.

They invaded and conquered England in 1013.

Local metal specialist Peter Adams made the find at the end of March. The burial ground was unearthed when Adams found two copper brooches.

From The Courier, Jeffrey Hauenstein, Findlay, OH, and Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.


Divers making dangerous probes through underwater caves near the Caribbean coast have discovered what appears to be one of the oldest human skeletons in the Americas, archaeologists announced at a seminar that ended recently. The report by a team from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History exploits a new way of investigating the past. Most coastal settlements by early Americans now lie deep beneath the sea, which during the Ice Age was hundreds of feet lower than now.

From the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, submitted by Ron Paul Smith, Honolulu, HI.


A bidder paid $4.8 million for an ancient Roman glass bowl, believed used some 1,800 years ago as an oil lamp. The price was believed one of the highest ever for a glass artifact sold at auction. The 10" x 8" honey-colored artifact, known as the Constable-Maxwell cage-cup, dates from the third century A.D. and was sold recently at Bonhams auction house in London to a telephone bidder who wasn't identified.

From the Star-News, submitted by Keith Harrell, Faison, NC.


In what is being called a "mind-blowing" discovery, divers have found anchors, cauldrons and cannonballs near a remote Hawaiian atoll where two British whaling ships were lost nearly two centuries ago.

If the pieces of debris are confirmed to have come from the two ships that sank in 1822, this would be the earliest Western shipwreck discovered in the Hawaiian Islands, said maritime heritage coordinator Hans Van Tilburg.

Divers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came upon the wreckage on Sept. 20 while removing marine debris from reefs on Pearl and Hermes Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, 1,210 miles northwest of Honolulu.

"Holy cow, this is amazing, there's a wreck here!" diver Susanna Holst said over the radio as she spotted the wreckage.

Pearl and Hermes Atoll was named for the two lost ships, which were traveling together when the Pearl struck a reef on April 24, 1822. The Hermes rushed to help and struck the reef itself. Crews of both ships swam ashore and were later rescued.

The debris, scattered across almost 700 yards of reef and ocean floor, clearly came from a whaling vessel, and there are no records of any other whaling losses at the atoll, officials said.

Among the items were anchors, large cauldrons used to process whale oil, metal hardware and pieces of a wooden ship. Also found were cannons and cannonballs, and other gear for hunting and processing whales.

"It's amazing how much of this vessel is still here after almost 200 years," said Randy Kosaki of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve. "Giant copper pots, nails, cannon, metal fittings even wooden timbers remarkably preserved here in crystal clear water."

Holst said the discovery is "mind-blowing."

"We were just doing our job, who could have imagined that we'd find these wrecks?" she said.

The wreckage is now being surveyed by teams of researchers.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain, known for its low and poorly charted reefs, is a vast 1,200-mile archipelago of water, islands, atolls and shoals. It begins about 140 miles west of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Some 14 million seabirds nest there and about 70 percent of all coral reefs in the United States are in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

From The Blade, submitted by Jeffrey L. Hauenstein, Findlay, OH, Ron Paul Smith, Honolulu, HI, and David M. Wolan, Charlotte, NC.


There's no point asking sailors aboard the USS Harry S. Truman for some cash. They don't need to have any.

The aircraft carrier is among the first wave of cashless ships, with its crew relying instead on debit cards. Everywhere dollars and cents had been used before- from the vending machines on the mess decks to the ship store to the ticket booth at the carrier's recreation department- now takes only plastic.

For the past two months, more than 5,000 sailors and Marines carried the debit-only MasterCards at sea. The cards were loaded with cash by crew members, who transferred money from their bank accounts by using one of five automated teller machines on board.

The Harry S. Truman is one of 24 Navy ships that no longer use cash on board. With the card, sailors at sea can receive pay, access home bank and credit union accounts, transfer and withdraw money, and make purchases.

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


When Darlene Hall first saw the mess on her front porch, she wanted to kill her puppy.

Now she's calling him her "money dog."

The stuffing that Cha-Cha, an Australian shepherd/blue heeler mix, had yanked from a recently purchased old brown vinyl ottoman turned out to be, in fact, shredded money.

And Hall may get some unshredded bucks back from the federal government for turning it in.

Hall stuffed the shredded money into some shopping bags and took it to a friend at a local bank, who gave her phone numbers for the Department of the Treasury.

"They said to put it in a box and mail it to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C., and they would send me a check," said Hall, who bought the ottoman for $1 at a yard sale last year.

"It's like I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," she said.

"And it was shredded."

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


Richard and Sharon Walker were ready to take up a new hobby- metal detecting with an eye toward gold prospecting. They struck pay dirt on their first outing but what they found was worth a lot more than gold.

"We unpacked our new metal detector, watched the instruction video, put in the batteries, took it out to a friend's ranch north of Cotopaxi, Colorado and tried it out in a dry stream bed," Richard said. "We weren't expecting to find anything, but about 45 minutes after we started we got a strong reading of metal. We dug down about 10 inches and came up with a black stone about the size of a large lemon. It was heavy for its size and looked like it had thumbprints all over it. It also was attracted to a magnet."

They took their stone to their friend Tom Johnson, who owns The Mineral Adit Shop in Colorado Springs. He told them it was probably a meteorite but that they should take it to an expert for a better identification.

"We took the meteorite home, put it on a shelf in the closet and made further inquiries," Richard said. "We saw in a newspaper that people from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science were going to be in Saguache to teach people how to identify meteorites."

They went to Saguache where they met DMNS curator Jack Murphy.

"He took one look at our find and said 'wow!' Dr. Murphy called John Wasson at UCLA to identify the meteorite. Wasson is one of the world's foremost meteorite experts."

During his analysis, Wasson removed two small slices of the meteorite- the Walkers donated one slice to the UCLA meteorite collection and the other to the DMNS.

The stone, now called the Cotopaxi Meteorite, is mostly iron and nickel and is one of only 14 of its kind found in Colorado- the last one was found more than 30 years ago.

"I still can't believe the sheer luck- what are the odds of that?" Richard said.

In his report, Wasson describes the Cotopaxi Meteorite as belonging to a new class of iron/nickel meteorites. It has traces of gallium, arsenic, gold and iridium, making it a rare find indeed. Wasson thought the meteorite had fallen to earth about 100 or 200 years ago but that it had floated around in space for about 4.5 billion years.

Because of its rarity, the 8.5-ounce meteorite was appraised at about $29,000 making it worth much more than its weight in gold, which would be worth only about $3,500 in this week's market.

Not really knowing what to do with their find but know they didn't want the meteorite to leave the state, the Walkers turned down several offers to sell.

"We considered selling it, but we would have had to pay taxes on it," Richard said. "We found it purely by luck so we decided to make a philanthropic gesture and donate it to the museum. This way it stays in the state and our grandchildren can take their children to see it."

The unveiling of the Cotopaxi Meteorite took place during the museum's annual celebration of Astronomy Day.

As for the Walkers, they're still looking for meteorites and also the gold they originally wanted to find.

"We go out a couple of times a month," Sharon said. "It's a relatively inexpensive hobby- the biggest outlay is for the detector- and after that it's just a sandwich and a bottle of water. We haven't found any more meteorites but we have a real nice collection of old barbed wire and beer cans. We take our finds home- you could say we're cleaning up the West."

The Walkers live in Woodland Park. Richard is a retired investigator for the U.S. Department of Defense, while Sharon is still an active DOD investigator.

From The Ute Pass Courier, submitted by Bruce Brothers, Woodland Park, CO.


A scientific dig in Athens, Greece has uncovered four pomegranates believed to be 2,500 years old preserved inside a woven basket nestled in a bronze vessel, a Greek archaeologist said recently.

The fruits were found at an archaeological dig in the area of Ancient Corinth, about 63 miles west of Athens.

"They were preserved because the vessel was closed very well. The oxidization of the bronze functioned protectively, so no microorganisms developed and destroyed them," said Panayiota Kasimi, the archaeologist in charge of the dig. Archaeologists have been digging for antiquities ahead of the construction of an area railroad line.

From the Associated Press, submitted by David M. Wolan, Charlotte, NC.

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