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Golden treasure hoard found in Phattalung




The Fine Arts Department will take control of the field where an ancient hoard of buried gold was found in Phattalung’s Khao Chaison district last weekend, sparking a local, frenzied rush to dig up the treasure.


This gold piece weighed about a kilogramme.M

The gold cache was uncovered after the land owner hired a backhoe to prepare the ground to plant four-rai of oil palm trees.

After heavy rain last Saturday, the land owner and workers planting the trees came across a buried hoard of gold.

The news spread and a gold rush followed with hundreds of people from nearby villages and even nearby provinces rushing to dig for a share of the treasure.

Many treasure hunters emerged with gold sheets engraved with figures, coins and ornaments of different sizes -- from one baht-weigh of gold to almost a kilogramme apiece.

The treasure hunt continued until Wednesday night, and by then no one was finding any more gold, although the holes they dug were getting quite deep.

Wi Tubsaeng, the land owner, said he has asked villagers to leave the area and will put up a sign prohibiting people from digging in there. This would allow officials from the Fine Arts Department to work in the area.

Police had been asked earlier to prevent the digging but villagers outnumbered the police, so Mr Wi said he had to let them hunt for the gold.

Fine Arts Department director-general Anek Sihamart and officials from the department’s office in Nakhon Si Thammarat went to examine the site and some of the recovered gold.

They said the gold was real and the square sheets depicted the story of the Churning of the Milk Ocean, part of Hindu mythology, and were 700-800 years old.

Mr Anek said the gold treasure dug up from the ground was considered national property, so people who found it should hand it in to the department, which would pay one-third of the value, which was expected to be at least 10 times higher than the market price for gold.

It was up to the people who found it whether they wanted to give the gold to the department or not.

The department would send officials to excavate the area and search for clues as to the origin of such a valuable treasure. In addition to the gold, villagers also found some antique utensils

Samart Nuoun, village chief in tambon Khao Sonchai, said most of the gold found was 10-20cm under the surface and was in square sheets 5X5cm.

Supakorn Chuayphom, 32, from a nearby village, said he found one gold sheet of about two baht-weight (about one ounce), which he sold for more than 40,000 baht.

Yok Phetcharta, 77, a villager in tambon Khok Muang of Khao Sonchai district, said her parents and some elderly people in her area said the spot where the gold was found was originally wetland forest.

She believed that the treasure belonged to Malaysian people who had planned to donate the gold to cover the top of a pagoda at Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

Anat Bamrungwong, director of Fine Arts office in Nakhon Si Thammarat, said the size and the thickness of the gold sheets match those used to cover the pagoda at Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, which also told a story about the construction of the pagoda in 1093.

However, some villagers thought the treasure hoard was left behind by Japanese soldiers who had set up camp in that area to supervise the construction of Phetkasem Road during World War II.






TIT On one hand the Fine Arts Dept. says it all belongs to the state yet is up to the individual whether to turn it in...

Fascinating what is still underground ALL OVER S. E Asia-

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More join hunt for gold at plantation



A PALM plantation in Phatthalung has attracted a huge number of gold prospectors. Armed with hoes and shovels, these people are no daydreamers.


In recent days, glittering big sheets of gold have been found here. It remains unclear how the precious items ended up on the plot but the Fine Arts Department has already come forward with a plea.


"If you find gold there, please sell it to us," the department's director-general Anek Sihamat said yesterday.


Under the law, ancient artefacts belong to the state. However, he said, his department is willing to purchase these gold sheets.


Anek said gold sheets from the plot were between 700 and 800 years old and could be historically important.


He was speaking after examining some of the gold items.


"We believe they might have belonged to some wealthy merchants or city rulers in the past," he said. "The gold has been turned into thin sheets to make it easy to carry around. Goldsmiths must have worked on these sheets."


Wi Tapsaeng owns the palm plantation, which covers more than 10 rai in tambon Khao Chaison, Khao Chaison district.


After he discovered gold on the plot, locals flocked there and searched for gold, too.


Many neighbours have shown up with flower garlands and incense sticks, praying to be blessed and to be forgiven.


Sources said the gold sheets were similar to those used to adorn the Phra Borommathat Chedi, an historical site and sacred religious structure in Nakhon Si Thammarat.


"If these ancient gold sheets were really designed for the pagoda, no one should use it for any inappropriate purpose, or else he or she may be cursed," an expert in Nakhon Si Thammarat history said on condition of anonymity. :ghost:


Anek said he had been contacting relevant officials to have Wi's plantation declared an "archaeological site".


Arnat Bamrungwong, who heads the Fine Arts Office 14, said relevant officials would do their best to protect the site from further damage. Nakhon Si Thammarat is under his office's jurisdiction.


Anek said he would also ask the Fourth Army Region for help secure the plantation for proper checks and excavation.




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The problem is that with the government offering only one-third what the gold value of artifacts is worth, the finders may just sell it to a gold shop ... which well then melt it down!


No, read this bit:


"which would pay one-third of the value, which was expected to be at least 10 times higher than the market price for gold."


So, one-third of the value would still be ~3 times the value when sold to a gold shop.



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Aha! Now if the finders have enough sense to realise that too. :hmmm:


In the UK every artifact found - even on your own property - has to be reported. Try relic hunting in the US on federal property, and you are likely to find yourself in jail. It is so ridiculous now that people are afraid to pick up an arrow head or potsherd for fear of being arrested. That happened to some arrow head hunters along the Tennessee River. The feds arrested them and seized their car. They'd been "caught" with a handful of arrow heads and a couple of minnie balls. The court eventually threw out the charges, but the guys spent some time behind bars and a lot of money on their defence before that. (The government says the Tennessee River and its banks belogns to them.)

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