Monday, May 7
Hey, you know what everyone likes?
Everyone likes GOLD.
I’m sexy and I know it.
Every archaeologist wants to find gold. We may say we don’t care, but this is a lie. Gold is bad ass.
But life is not an Indiana Jones movie (WHICH IS AN AWFUL FACT, I KNOW) and finding gold doesn’t really happen in most excavations. Trained archaeologists may dig their entire career and find not a hint of the shiny pretty metal.
And then some dude with a metal detector may go for a stroll in England and find a goddamn HOARD.
This dude in particular. His name is Terry Herbert.
And thus begins the story of the Staffordshire Gold.
Terry Herbert was walking around Fred Johnson’s farm one day in 2009 when his metal detector started flipping its shit. Terry—probably expecting to find like a nail or something—started digging. And what he ended up finding is arguably the most spectacular buried treasure (real life buried treasure!) ever.
Thirty-five hundred pieces just sitting in the dirt. THIS IS WHY ARCHAEOLOGY IS AWESOME.
The treasure probably comes from the seventh or eighth centuries, at a time when the region was under the control of the Kingdom of Mercia.
So like, what’s up with this? The nature of the find seems to indicate that the treasure (eleven pounds of gold and three pounds of silver) was purposely buried. Weirder still, almost everything in the hoard is related to war, and there are no identifiably feminine pieces (which is typically way more common in Anglo-Saxon finds).
This is a gratuitous picture of more sexy, sexy gold.
There’s sort of a default answer to situations like this: in archaeology, when you can’t identify the purpose of something, it’s often classified as ritual. And that’s one of the possible hypotheses surrounding the Straffordshire Hoard—maybe this was a votive offering to the gods.
But some people call bullshit on this theory, since fourteen pounds of treasure is a helluva lot of metal to bury for the purpose of ritual. The more widely accepted theory is that someone buried all this treasure to keep it safe, but then was never able to return to dig it back up.
GET OFF OF MY BLOG, NICHOLAS CAGE.
And maybe it’s the very mystery of the gold that has grabbed the world’s attention.
Okay well that and the fact that it is valued at £3.285 million.
Remember this guy? Yeah, he’s rich now.
Anyway, the gold is in a museum now and continues to be surrounded by lots of questions. Probably they’ll never be answered, since evidence from this time is so scant. The Staffordshire Hoard will forever be one of the largest, and one of the most mysterious, discoveries ever made.
It’s just so sexy.
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