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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (02/2009) Headlines (12/2008) Headlines (04/2009)   Vol. 43 February 2009 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the February 2009 edition of W&ET Magazine

BURIED CLASS RING TRACED TO OWNER

Preparing to move from their home on Santa Monica Drive, Andy Dannhardt and his family dug up a time capsule filled with family trinkets. In the process, they found a long-lost treasure.

Buried 11 years ago the family had a difficult time remembering exactly where they'd placed the time capsule.

"I couldn't find it so I asked my friend Tina (Easterly) to look for it with her metal detector," Dannhardt said. "She found it within a minute and a half." So they decided to use the metal detector to scan the property for his wife's class ring, which had been lost a few years earlier.

"We thought if her ring was out here Tina would find it," he said.

The group was not surprised when the detector's alarm sounded and a ring icon appeared on the display. Easterly laid her detector on the ground and used a shovel to dig through the dirt and grass. "It was just as shiny and new, with just a little dirt on it," Dannhardt said.

Yet once inspected, they realized the ring was not his wife's nor did it belong to anyone in his family.

"I knew right away I needed to find who it belonged to, so the search was on," Dannhardt said.

He used the Internet to try to find the owner using only the details on the ring. "It had the name of the school on top, the year it was established in 1923, the graduating date of '53 and the initials on the inside," Dannhardt said.

He started by calling the high school.

"You wouldn't believe how many Belfry High School's there are, but I finally called the right one," he said.

The right high school was in Belfry, Kentucky, 135 miles away.

Dannhardt partnered with the school's principal who helped him narrow down the ring's rightful owner.

"He went through the records of the graduating class and we found one person with the right initials," Dannhardt said.

The initials of R.W.M. inscribed on the inside of the ring led them to Robert Warren May, who graduated from Belfry High School in 1953.

May now lives in Fresno, California, and had not seen the ring in 55 years.

"He was just overjoyed and couldn't wait to find out where I had it, where I found it, and when he could get it back," Dannhardt said.

"It's something out of my past that brings back all kinds of memories," May said.

May had given the ring to his girlfriend at the time. "I let her wear it and she moved. I remember her moving and she had some people that helped her move and during that time the ring went missing and she said it was stolen," May said.

May said he's still not exactly sure how his ring ended up in Bristol, Virginia, from Belfry, Kentucky.

Even after more than five decades, he said, he's ready to wear this high school ring.

"I'm going to put it on and show it off to my family and friends," he said.

From the Bristol Herald Courier, submitted by Robert Marx, Bristol, VA.



QUEEN'S PYRAMID A RARE DESERT FIND

Archaeologists have discovered a new pyramid under the sands of Saqqara, Egypt, an ancient site that has yielded a string of unearthed pyramids in recent years but remains largely unexplored.

The 4,300-year-old monument most likely belonged to the queen mother of the founder of Egypt's 6th Dynasty, and was built several hundred years after the famed Great Pyramids of Giza, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told reporters in announcing the find recently.

The discovery is part of the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt's Old Kingdom, about 12 miles south of Giza.

All that remains of the pyramid is a 16-foot-tall structure that had been buried under 65 feet of sand.

"There was so much sand dumped here that no one had any idea there was something buried underneath," said Hawass.

Hawass' team had been excavating at the location for two years, but only determined two months ago that the structure, with sides about 72 feet long, was the base of a pyramid. The pyramid is the 118th discovered so far in Egypt, and the 12th to be found in Saqqara. Most are in ruins; only about a dozen pyramids remain intact across the country.

Archaeologists also found parts of the pyramid's white limestone casing- believed to have once covered the entire structure- which enabled them to calculate that the complete pyramid was once 45 feet high.

"To find a new pyramid is always exciting," said Hawass. "And this one is magical. It belonged to a queen.

Hawass said he believes the pyramid belonged to Queen Sesheshet, who is thought to have played a significant role in establishing the 6th Dynasty and uniting two branches of the feuding royal family. Her son, Teti, ruled for about a dozen years until his likely assassination, in a sign of the turbulent times.

The pyramids of Teti's two wives, discovered 100 years ago and in 1994, respectively, lie next to it, part of a burial complex of Teti himself.

The Egyptian team is still digging and is two weeks from entering the burial chamber inside the pyramid, where Hawass hopes they will find proof of its owner- a sarcophagus or at least an inscription of the queen, he said.

Finding more than that is unlikely, as robbers in antiquity looted the pyramid, he said, pointing to a gaping shaft on the structure's top, a testament of the plunder.

Yesterday, workers wearing white turbans and dust-covered robes scurried back and forth, carrying large rocks and bags heaped with sand away from the site.

Using an air brush, one worker cleaned sand from stunning hieroglyphic details on the white limestone casing, while archaeologists studied the inscriptions and students drew blueprints of the pyramid's base.

Dieter Wildung, a leading Egyptologist and head of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, said it was common in the Old Kingdom for kings to build pyramids for their queens and mothers next to their own.

"Hawass is likely right" that the pyramid belonged to Sesheshet, said Wildung, who was not involved in the dig. "These parallel situations give a very strong argument in favor of his interpretation."

But Joe Wegner, an associate professor of Egyptian archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania who has been involved in other expeditions at Saqqara, cautioned that until "inscriptional confirmation is found, it's still an educated guess" that the pyramid is Sesheshet's.

Although evidence of the queen's existence was found elsewhere in Egypt in inscriptions and a papyrus document- a medical prescription to strengthen the queen's thinning hair- the site of her burial was not known.

The find is important because it adds to the understanding of the 6th Dynasty, which reigned from 2322 B.C. to 2151 B.C. It was the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom, which spanned the third millennium B.C. and whose achievements are considered the first peak of pharaonic civilization.

Saqqara is most famous for the Step Pyramid of King Djoser, built in the 27th century B.C.

Excavations have been going on here for about 150 years, uncovering a vast Old Kingdom necropolis of pyramids, tombs and funerary complexes, as well as tombs dating from the New Kingdom about 1,000 years later.

Still, only about a third of the Saqqara complex has been explored so far, with recent digging turning up a number of key finds.

The last new pyramid, found here three years ago, is thought to belong to the wife of Teti's successor, Pepi I.

In June, Hawass' team unveiled a "rediscovery" at Saqqara- a pyramid believed to have been built by King Menkauhor, an obscure pharaoh whose pyramid was first discovered in 1842 but was later buried in sand.

From The Providence Journal, submitted by Bill Ladd and Doug Amundson.



CASH FOUND IN OHIO HOUSE'S WALLS BECOMES NIGHTMARE

A contractor who found $182,000 in Depression-era currency hidden in a bathroom wall has ended up with only a few thousand dollars, but he feels some vindication.

The windfall discovery amounted to little more than grief for contractor Bob Kitts, who couldn't agree on how to split the money with homeowner Amanda Reece.

It didn't help Reece much, either. She testified in a deposition that she was considering bankruptcy and that a bank recently foreclosed on one of her properties.

And 21 descendants of Patrick Dunne- the wealthy businessman who stashed the money that was minted in a time of bank collapses and joblessness- will each get a mere fraction of the find.

"If these two individuals had sat down and resolved their disputes and divided the money, the heirs would have had no knowledge of it," said attorney Gid Marcinkevicius, who represents the Dunne estate. "Because they were not able to sit down and divide it in a rational way, they both lost."

Kitts was tearing the bathroom walls out of an 83-year-old home near Lake Erie in 2006 when he discovered two green metal lockboxes suspended inside a wall below the medicine chest, hanging from a wire. Inside were white envelopes with the return address for "P. Dunne News Agency."

"I ripped the corner off of one," Kitts said during a deposition in a lawsuit file by Dunne's estate. "I saw a 50 and got a little dizzy."

He called Reece, a former high school classmate who had hired him for a remodeling project.

They counted the cash and posed for photographs, both grinning like lottery jackpot winners.

But how to share? She offered 10 percent. He wanted 40 percent. From there things went sour.

A month after The Plain Dealer reported on the case in December 2007, Dunne's estate got involved, suing for the right to the money.

By then there was little left to claim.

Reece testified in a deposition that she spent about $14,000 on a trip to Hawaii and had sold some of the rare late 1920s bills. She said about $60,000 was stolen from a shoe box in her closet but testified that she never reported the theft to police.

Kitts said Reece accused him of stealing the money and began leaving him threatening phone messages. Marcinkevicius doesn't believe the money was stolen but said he couldn't prove otherwise.

Reece's phone number has been disconnected, and her attorney Robert Lazzaro did not return a call seeking comment. There were no court records showing that Reece had filed for bankruptcy.

Kitts said he lost a lot of business because media reports on the case portrayed him as greedy, but he feels vindicated by the court's decision to give him a share.

"I was not the bad guy that everybody made me out to be," Kitts said. "I didn't do anything wrong."

He's often asked why he didn't keep his mouth shut and pocket the money. He says he wasn't raised that way.

"It was a neat experience, something that won't happen again," Kitts said. "In that regard, it was pretty fascinating; seeing that amount of money in front of you was breathtaking. In that regard, I don't regret it.

"The threats and all- that's the part that makes you wish it never happened."

From the Napa Valley Register, submitted by Jerry Hallett, Jeff Kehl, and Doug Amundson.


























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