Like gold, silver has long attracted both professional investors and consumers. Today, investment in silver commonly takes the form of futures contracts, bullion bars, or shares of ETFs and mining stocks.
But there is a long and interesting history of wealth storage in the form of jewelry and other luxury objects.
Many silver artifacts and treasures lie buried in forgotten natural settings throughout the world. The locations span from Mexico to Scotland and Jerusalem to Florida.
Here are five fascinating silver discoveries treasure hunters far and wide have unearthed.
1. Two Iron Age Silver Scrolls Discovered
A 1979 excavation of a seventh-century Iron Age tomb outside of Jerusalem revealed a pair of small silver scrolls originally designed to be worn as amulets around one’s neck. They are no greater in diameter than a modern quarter.
Israel Museum researchers found that they each contained Hebrew text similar to blessings contained in the Biblical Old Testament’s Book of Numbers. Mysteriously, the lettering was written so small it was clearly never intended to be read. This suggests it was designed to bring the amulet’s wearer closer to Yahweh (God) in a more intimate and personal sense.
Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay made the discovery at a funerary site known as Ketef Hinnom. In 1994, the University of Southern California’s West Semitic Research Project took high-resolution digital photographs of the scrolls to allow for closer study.
2. Peruvian Archaeologists Unearth Silver Artifacts and Temple
In Peru’s Southern Cusco region is the Pre-Hispanic Espiritu Pampa archaeological site. The Peruvian news agency Agencia Andina reported the unearthing in 2017 of a collection of ancient relics. These included a giant Incan temple and stone walls, an astronomical observatory, and a host of silver artifacts and treasures.
The silver discovered included silver brooches, a silver chest plate, a silver headdress or crown, silver needles and a silver tupus.
The archaeologists also found animal tooth fragments, Wari-style bottles, Inca ceramics, and ceremonial ceramic vessels.
3. Roman-Era Silver Artifacts Discovered in Scotland
Archaeologists uncovered a hoard of 100 silver artifacts, including parts of bracelets, brooches, pendants, and silver coins. They date back to the Roman era from the fourth to fifth centuries AD at what is now known as the site of the Gaulcross hoard. There, over 170 years prior, a group of Scottish laborers first discovered a trio of silver artifacts.
These included a hand a hand pin, a spiral bangle and a chain.
The archaeological researchers who stumbled across the hoard admitted they weren’t expecting to find silver in their search. Rather, they merely expected to learn more about the original discovery’s context.
The three silver pieces were donated to the Banff Museum in Aberdeenshire, which loaned them for display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh where they now sit.
4. Spanish Silver Coins From a 1715 Shipwreck Unearthed on Florida Beach
A Port St Lucie treasure hunter with a metal detector uncovered 22 Spanish silver coins from a public beach along the aptly named Treasure Coast. In February 2020 on Turtle Trail Beach, 43-year-old Jonah Martinez discovered the coins dating back to a 300-year-old shipwreck.
The shipwreck was part of a fleet of 12 galleons hauling New World treasures to their Spanish homeland on July 31, 1715, when a hurricane blew 11 of the vessels off course and bound for disaster. The majority of the treasures those ships carried still lie lost beneath the waters.
Martinez estimates their worth at around $7,000 with a single one of the coins potentially worth more than $2,000. Far from his largest discovery, Martinez once unearthed $6.5 million in gold coins.
5. Hidden Silver Mining Operation From 1800s Discovered in Mexico
The company Radius Gold Inc recently announced entering into an agreement to acquire a total interest in a historic silver mining camp located on a 300-hectare property in Chihuahua, Mexico.
At the site of the new project, entitled Plata Verde, geologists rediscovered a large-scale, underground, previously undocumented bulk mining operation dating back to the late 1800s. There, miners of the time had excavated anastomosing caverns and produced silver bars at a smelting operation nearby.
Upon ceasing their mining operations, however, the project was abandoned and apparently forgotten. No mention of it is made in the documentation of the Mexican Geological Survey, until its recent rediscovery.
Furthermore, local residents report no knowledge or personal observation of exploration companies coming through to work in the region. And no evidence exists of previous exploration throughout the mines and outcroppings surrounding them. Radius geologists report initial prospecting rock chips returning silver grades up to 1,000 grams per ton — much higher than the 300 g/T level typical of recent years.
The Plata Verde project is situated east of a historic silver-mining district from 1708 to 1920 known as Batopilas, whose structures and veins are known for yielding over 300-million ounces of high-grade silver. Plata Verde is also north of another Radius Gold property known as the Amalia Gold-Silver project.