Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lost Treasure Found: Did Someone Solve the Mystery of the Tsar's Lost Amber Room?

A few days ago, a German treasure hunters and politician Hans-Peter Haustein and his partner Christian Hanisch announced that they may have found the lost Amber Room of the Tsar's Catherine Palace. The entire room was covered in amber marquetry placed above gold leaf and mirrors, a feat which took eight tons of amber, several years and even more millions to complete. During World War Two, however, German forces looted and destroyed every palace and museum they came across. The Catherine Palace was not spared, and the entire Amber Room was stripped from the walls and sent back to Germany. As the Soviets advanced, it disappeared again, this time to destination unknown.

The Old Amber Room from a 1940s Photograph

Since that time, many archaeologists, historians and treasure hunters claim to have found the Amber room, always to turn out wrong. The Soviet government eventually gave up, reconstructing the Amber room (a project which began in 1979 and only ended in 2003). I don't know the total cost, but when the project ran into financial difficulties, a German company made up the shortfall with a 3.5 million dollar donation.

Now someone may have found it for real though. The difference between this theory and the others is that something is already found. Mr. Hanisch found notes in his father's documents after the latter's death that said he had helped bury the Amber room as well as large store of precious metals in a man-made cavern near the Czech border. The two men already conducted scans of the spot using a sophisticated metal detector, which found a large quantity of what is probably silver or gold 60 feet (20 meters) beneath the surface. If this is true, and it really is a store of hidden gold, then the Amber Room may be there too. Which would be great. Although what they will do with the new, already-installed replacement room I don't know.

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