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Buried millions triggers Austrian treasure hunt Email

Friday, 02 July 2010 00:00

(CNN) -- Treasure hunters armed with shovels and metal detectors have descended on a sleepy Austrian town in search of up to €5 million ($6.18 million) said to have been buried there by a fraudulent German financial advisor, says ORF, the Austrian broadcasting corporation.

The fortune is believed to have been buried in aluminium cases by Augustine G. in wooded mountainous areas surrounding the small town of Ebbs near the German border, say police.

Augustine, a 52-year-old whose full name has not been officially released by Austrian or German police, was arrested when an amateur archaeologist found a suitcase containing €150,000 ($185,000) and Augustine's passport buried near Innsbruck, the capital of the Tyrol region in the west of Austria.

At his 2002 trial Augustine said the €5 million fortune he had embezzled from investors while working for the BDA bank had been taken by the Italian mafia.

During his trial, German police said they suspected he had hidden the rest of the money because they had determined that he had bought several aluminium cases which they believed he might have used to bury the cash.

Augustine was jailed for the maximum six-years and is now living in Bavaria in Germany.

Investigators have now publicized the case in the hope that Augustine will tell them where the money is buried.

The ploy has failed but it has tempted treasure hunters to travel to Ebbs, population 5,000, and dig in the hope of finding their fortune.

Austrian law allows treasure hunters to keep 10 percent of any banknotes they find.

The DBA Bank has also said that anyone who finds the €5 million will be rewarded €660,000 ($815,000).

Jurgen Pettinger, an ORF correspondent based in Innsbruck, told CNN: "When (Augustine) was released from prison BDA hired private detectives who followed him into the woods... it sounds a little crazy, but that's what happened. No one knows the exact amount of money buried."

Augustine told police after his release in 2008 that he had managed to convince Mafia bosses to pay him back €100,000.

The banknotes he handed over to investigators were moldy and wet, according to investigators, Pettinger said.

The treasure hunters at the site include locals, and more people are expected to converge on the area as the story spreads.

"They need to have a lot of luck to find the money, the police told me. There are many locals going there to look and I think in the next days more people will come to look for money. I think some will come from Germany also," Pettinger said.

While treasure hunters will be keeping their fingers crossed, Ebbs may benefit from an influx of visitors. The local tourist office is already planning an official tourist trail, Pettinger said.

Courtesy CNN

Roman Ships and Amphorae Found off Sardinia and Panarea Email

Thursday, 01 July 2010 00:00

Roman ship-discovery season is in full flow, with several finds and explorations announced in the past week.

Yesterday Ansa ran a story about the discovery of a 25-metre merchant ship from the first century AD with its cargo of 500 amphorae containing fruit and vegetables still on board. The ship is said to be in perfect condition and was found south of Panarea, in the group of Aeolian/Lipari islands north of Sicily. The news agency reported that Italy's Maritime Superintendency and the Aurora Trust, an American foundation, were responsible for the find.

Read more: Roman Ships and Amphorae Found off Sardinia and Panarea

Website maps Welsh archaeological finds Email

Wednesday, 30 June 2010 00:00

ARCHAEOLOGICAL finds from across Wales can now be explored at the touch of a button, thanks to a new online database being launched tomorrow.

The website, Archwilio – which means "to explore" – catalogues the historic environment records of Wales, allowing users to freely explore details of thousands of different archaeological sites dating back more than 100,000 years.

Created using information from the four archaeological trusts of Wales, the new service is being launched by Welsh heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones.

Read more: Website maps Welsh archaeological finds

Investor buys out Mel Fisher's family Email

Monday, 28 June 2010 00:00

SEBASTIAN, Fla. - Brent Brisben is a real estate developer from Cincinnati who just became a full- fledged South Florida treasure hunter.


Found Cannons Likely From 1846 Navy Shipwreck Email

Monday, 28 June 2010 00:00

CANNON BEACH, Ore. -- Conservation work at Texas A&M University on the two historic cannons recovered from the beach at Arch Cape on the Oregon coast two yeasr ago is starting to show results - and pointing toward their likely origins as an 1846 Navy shipwreck, officials said Monday.

The cannons, found in February 2008 by teen beachcomber Miranda Petrone while walking at Arch Cape with her father, were recovered from the ocean shore by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, with help from Arch Cape officials.

Arch Cape is on the north Oregon coast between Oswald West State Park and -- quite fittingly -- Cannon Beach.

The cannons were heavily coated by a concretion -- a thick, hard layer of solidified sand and rock -- after being buried deep on the beach for an unknown amount of time.

It is possible the two cannons are the remnants of the 1846 wreck of the USS Shark, a US Navy vessel that sank on the Columbia Bar. Three of the Shark's cannons broke away from the wreck, and one was recovered from the Arch Cape area in 1898. The other two were never found.

After being removed from the beach, the two cannons were temporarily stored in water tanks at a nearby state park. In early 2009, the department signed a contract with the Center for Marine Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Since April 2009, the lab has been soaking the artifacts, to remove corrosive salt. Using hand-held tools, graduate students at the lab began to delicately remove the concretions under the guidance of lab director Jim Jobling.

After months of work, the lab has successfully revealed the metal and wood of one cannon. A symbol resembling a broad arrow is engraved on the cannon's surface, proving the cannon was at one time the property of the British Royal Navy. The early American navy frequently purchased cannon and other gear from overseas in the first half of the 19th century.

"We still don't know exactly where these cannons came from, but the information revealed by the lab is certainly pointing toward the USS Shark theory," said State Archaeologist Dennis Griffin of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

"This is where it gets interesting and exciting. What more clues will we find as the lab continues to work? What questions will be answered, and what new ones will be posed? We'll find out as the lab continues to do their excellent work."

The lab's physical work could still take several years to complete. As the group removes concretions, they then must chemically treat the wood and metal parts to shield them from corrosion.

The cannons will return to Oregon after the lab finishes conservation. A local, state and federal advisory team will make a recommendation to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department about long-term curation and public display of the artifacts.

Courtesy KTVZ Bend