Over the centuries, many have spent their lives in pursuit of hidden treasure or lost cities! Whether a simple chest buried by pirates, a long forgotten civilization, or a myth that probably never existed at all, these are 5 of the most well known hidden treasures and lost cities known to man.
1. The Treasure of Captain Kidd
Pirates and buried treasure go together like pirates and parrots – in that while I’m sure some had them, it was much more common in stories. That being said, few possible treasures have captured the imagination of seekers and countries alike as that of Captain William Kidd. A Scotsman, Kidd was ultimately tried and executed by the crown in 1701 for piracy. Shortly following this, a song entitled ‘Captain Kidd’s Farewell to the Seas, or, the Famous Pirate’s Lament’ was printed in which ample gold and coins he had seized were mentioned.
Whether this ballad had any basis in fact is unknown, but the cat was out of the bag. Many adventurous types searched islands all throughout the ‘New World’ while stories like ‘Treasure Island’ and the like popped up – inspired by the legend of Kidd. In the end, though his ship was located in 2007, the treasure itself has never been found (despite a false find a few years back).
2. El Dorado
Legends tend to take on a life of their own as time passes, and nowhere is this more evident that with ‘El Dorado’. Initially known as ‘El Hombre Dorado’ (or ‘The Golden Man’), the tales soon changed to an entire city, and eventually an empire. How’s that for exaggeration? Regardless of whether the stories were true or not, explorers like Sir Walter Raleigh and various conquistadors travelled throughout South America looking for this fabled ‘lost city of gold’. Yet, neither a man nor a golden pre-Columbian kingdom were ever found.
Today, most believe ‘El Dorado’ to be a myth, but that hasn’t stopped it from remaining in the public conciseness. Whether in film, games, or books, it lives on as perhaps the preeminent example of a legendary lost city in Latin America (despite not even starting as such) – and there were quite a lot we could’ve mentioned.
3. King Tut’s Tomb
Unlike the other entries on our list, this is one treasure we know exists…thanks to the efforts of English Archaeologist Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in 1922. An Egyptian pharaoh in the 18th dynasty (1300’s BC), Tutankhamun was only around 18 or 19 when he died. Mummified and buried in a small tomb, it nevertheless housed great riches and many artifacts from Ancient Egypt. Even today, the discovery of the tomb (known officially as KV62) remains one of the most important in Egyptological history.
But it isn’t all science and fact. You might have heard that King Tut’s tomb was cursed! A so-called ‘curse of the pharaohs’ fell upon all those who opened it – bringing about an untimely death. In actuality however, only eight of the more than fifty who entered died within around a decade after – a number which didn’t include Howard Carter (who we’d assume would be at the top of this supernatural hit list). It did however include Lord Carnarvon (the well-known benefactor behind the whole operation). His death fueled rampant speculation and arguably contributed to the popular stories and pop-culture surrounding mummies and ancient curses – a staple in film for generations.
Perhaps the most famous of all, this is one entry on the list that is really stretching past any actual existence in historical fact. That being said, who doesn’t get a kick out of imagining a lost city that sunk beneath the waves and managed to survive? In the stories, Atlantis was an antagonistic island in the times of Ancient Greece, fought against Athens, and, for its hubris, was punished by the gods by being cast into the depths of the Atlantic. Perhaps the first well known example of a ‘lost civilization’, Atlantis remains the originator of many such stories.
While the tale is agreed by most to be wholly false, legends do often come from something. As such, much of the discussion has revolved around what inspired the story. A volcanic eruption that destroyed the island of Thera is a common candidate, while other influences includes stories from the Trojan War. Whether it was neither of these (or both), Atlantis has nonetheless grown into one of the most famous myths in all known history.
5. Oak Island
Lastly, we end our adventure a little closer to home. Off the coast of Nova Scotia lies Oak Island – a private spot of land a little over half a square kilometre large. This relatively unremarkable outcropping became associated with the first entry on our list, as it was one of the rumored locations of Captain Kidd’s treasure. Since then, other pirate treasure has been brought up along with (and bear with us here), manuscripts from Shakespeare, Marie Antionette’s jewels, and even the Holy Grail or Ark of the Covenant.
It’s safe the say folk may have gotten a bit…carried away over the years (looking at you History Channel). Regardless of the far-fetched validity of the rumors, many have searched the small island in hopes of finding something – and you can still see the original shaft (‘the money pit’ as it’s known) today. Plus, what’s a legend without a curse – and Oak Island has that as well. Allegedly, the search for treasure will claim seven lives before it’s found – and so far six have perished.
We hope you enjoyed our journey through history, legend, and myth! Check out our look at some of the creepiest mythological creatures for more.
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