30 March 2015

The looting of Romania's Dacian gold

Sarmizegetusa, high in the central mountains, was once the capital and sacred center of the Dacians, a civilization crushed by the Roman Emperor Trajan in two bloody wars more than 1,900 years ago. The victory, Roman chroniclers boasted, yielded one of the largest treasures the ancient world had ever known: half a million pounds of gold and a million pounds of silver...

Sarmizegetusa was leveled and forgotten for centuries. But stories of Dacia's gold lived on, inspiring generations of peasants who lived nearby to dig in the steep valleys...

The full extent of the looting became clear years later, when some of the illegal excavators were arrested and confessed to police. The Lot 26 bracelet, they told police, was found in 1998, on top of a hoard of a thousand gold coins. To celebrate, the looters carved "Eureka" in the bark of a nearby tree—and kept digging. They showed no concern that they'd be caught: Another tree trunk bore an arrow and helpful directions: "Pits, 40 meters."

A small team of treasure hunters hit the mother lode in May 2000, according to Romanian police. Their metal detector pinged over a stone slab about two feet wide, embedded in a steep hillside. Underneath, in a small chamber made of flat stones propped against each other, they found ten spiraling, elaborately decorated Dacian bracelets—all solid gold. One weighed a hefty two and a half pounds (1.2 kilograms).
You can read more of this interesting story at National Geographic.


  1. Based on research, in Romania it is still a lot of gold, the biggest quantity from all European countries. On one hand it is the gold found by treasure hunters (historical artifacts), on the other it is the gold still inside the ground. Therefore scandals erupted when companies coming from abroad, bribing Romanian politicians (in 2015, corruption in Romania is still at high levels in spite of statistics) to change the mining law in order to use unsafe technology (maybe you remember the recently devastating accident from Canada when a huge dam broken and the toxic waters and mud started to travel). They want to take the gold and to let Romania to cover the ecological and other after-business activities - maximum profit, http://www.mining.com/thousands-of-romanians-protest-gold-mine-39028/ The entire Apuseni Mountain area is known for the gold, silver and other expensive metals: http://www.mbendi.com/indy/ming/gold/eu/ro/p0005.htm Unfortunately, due to corruption and lack of civil adhesion among population, it is hard to believe that we can benefit from our rich underground. Sorry about this sad comment

    1. Thank you Catalin. I wish your country well in the people's effort to protect their environment.

  2. Did you ever notice how rural people in Eastern Europe are never farmers (as they are in Europe, North America, Latina America, Africa, East Asia etc) but peasants?


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