Massive hidden treasure discovered in India

Buddha statue in India

Buddha statue in India. Photo: watchsmart / Flickr

Let’s face it: most archaeology work can be quite boring, compared to the Indiana Jones fantasy. You’re more likely to be dusting off pottery than exploring lost cities.  However, sometimes reality can trump fiction.

The New York Times had this incredible news: Beneath a Temple in Southern India, a Treasure Trove of Staggering Riches. As a routine matter, a court ordered several vaults under the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple to be examined to assess the temple’s assets. They got much more than they bargained for: a fortune in gold, jewels, and statues worth billions of dollars.

Where did all those valuables come from?  For centuries, devotees and wealthy patrons have donated cash and gifts to temples.  The treasures must have accumulated in the vaults over a long period of time.  Somewhere along the way, the record-keeping must have stopped.  A hoard of cultural artifacts beyond imagination lay unnoticed while the temple ran activities as normal.

Expect the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple to become a major attraction on Indian itineraries in the future.  There is already talk of setting up a museum to house and catalog the priceless pieces.

Do you want to get in on the action?  I’ve dug up some resources for those who want to do archaeology fieldwork:

Earthwatch Institute Expeditions

Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin

Have you participated in an archaeology project?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | July 8, 2011
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel News

One Response to “Massive hidden treasure discovered in India”

  1. Susan Fox Says:

    I did an Earthwatch project “Roman Fort on Tyne” some years ago. We were helping to excavate a 1st century Roman fort called Arbeia, located in the town of South Shields near Newcastle-on-Tyne in far north England. It was the real deal, down on your hands and knees with a little trowel, removing dirt a millimeter or two at a time. We all found cool stuff. My “haul” included a small coin called a minum and some pieces of pottery, but the best was a horse’s tooth that I spotted in the tip pile which they told me to keep since it was out of context and therefore of no value. Definitely one of the better souvenirs I’ve come home with.

    As an artist, I also got to spend a day in the art department doing illustrations of some of the finds, which I had the pleasure of seeing published in the official Journal.

    They took us on a day-long fieldtrip to Hadrian’s Wall and just generally did a great job of making us feel welcome and useful. The roughest part of the “field” conditions was deciding which pub we were all going to go to in the evening.

    The project is still running, as far as I know.