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The Treasure of Lima, Peru is a huge collection of gold and silver that is a mystery to all. Many have gone on extravagant searches for it, hoping to be the adventurer to discover the huge prize and claim victory over other explorers. But just what IS the Treasure of Lima? Where did it come from, where is it now, and is it even real to begin with?
Journey along with us as we uncover the secrets behind the this hoard.
A treasure hunt begins with separating fact from fiction. Underground treasure hoards or caches have some truth to them. In history, people have buried their valuables out of greed or fear of advancing armies and other marauders, hoping to find them again someday. These practices are not uncommon despite their prevalence. Do your research before investing in equipment or traveling long distances. Look for clues in documents or oral histories. Make a note of every detail; you might need it later. Cocos Island is one of the most unusual islands in the world. It is a true oceanic island whose closest neighbor, also an island, lies some 900 miles away.
The Story of The Treasure of Lima
The 16th century was a time of great prosperity for Spain. After winning in battle against the Incas and claiming Lima, the Catholic Church began gathering their riches on the island. It was isolated enough to keep it protected, and they could allow their tons of gold and silver to pile on top of one another. They thought they had everything figured out.
Colonies begun fighting back against Spain in the 19th century, plaguing wars for independence and demanding their land back. Lima was among those displeased and the church knew that revolt was coming for them. At the edge of unrest, the Viceroy of Lima decided to transport the treasure hidden within Lima to Mexico until things died down. Captain William Thompson and his crew were trusted to get it there but unfortunately, greed got the best of them. They massacred every priest and guard aboard the Mary Dear and threw their bodies over the ship, hoping to get away with the treasure all to themselves.
In search of a place to hide, the greedy crew and captain fled to Cocos Island and buried the treasure there before going separate ways. They planned to hide out until the time was right and then meet to dig it all back up. Things did not work out this way, and the infamous Mary Dear was caught. The crew was hung for piracy, but Thompson and his first mate James Alexander Forbes struck a deal for their lives. The pair promised to bring the Spanish straight to the treasure.
Once they arrived at the Cocos Islands, which is near Costa Rica, Thompson and Forbes ran into the woods never to be seen again. A few years later, Thompson's son came looking for his father with a warship full of Spanish. They found nothing. There have been numerous expeditions to find the treasure
Has Anyone Found the Treasure of Lima?
As a result of Captain William Thompson and James Alexander Forbes disappearing into the jungle of the Coco Islands, many explorers have set out to discover the treasure that they risked their lives to find. For a very long time, boats were slowly pulling up to the islands left and right, searching frantically for whatever may have been left behind.
One of the earliest treasure hunters to search for the infamous hoard was John Keating, a supposed friend of Thompson. He set out in 1844 for the treasure and it is rumored that he even found some, leaving the island with gold and jewels after a treasure map from Thompson led him there. Another rumor is that he killed someone that he encountered while treasure hunting who was also looking for the Treasure and left their body with the treasure. What we know about the treasure’s rumored contents come from Keating, who disclosed all he knew while on his death bed.
Out of all of those who have searched, Keating is the only one rumored to have gotten even close to finding it. American Gangster Busby Seigel is among those who have been unsuccessful, along with President Roosevelt in 1910, Errol Flynn in the 1940s, and Sir Malcolm Campbell in the 1920s. August Gissler, a German adventurer, became obsessed with the treasure and lived on the island for 19 years trying to locate it. He became the official governor of Cocos Island in 1897 and searched for other famous treasure while he was there, though he walked away with nothing.
At the end of the day, many have tried but none have been successful.
What IS the Treasure of Lima?
With all of the chaos and frantic treasure hunting, it is no surprise that the Treasure of Lima and Cocos Island is rumored to be huge. The exact items in the treasure are not known, however Spanish historians have speculated that it is vast hoard of exceptional value.
According to John Keating on his death bed, the treasure included twelve chests. It is believed that these chests contained 500,000 gold coins, 16 to 18 pounds of gold dust and 11,000 silver ingots. The treasure is believed to have also contained gold religious statues, chests of jewels, hundreds of swords, thousands of diamonds and solid gold crowns. This is an absolutely staggering amount! How anyone could tally it all is hard to comprehend.
One chest rumored to contain altar trimmings of gold cloth with canopies, monstrances, and chalices all coated with up to 1,244 pieces of gemstones. One contained two gold relic containers weighing 120 pounds with 646 topaz, carnelians, emeralds, and 12 diamonds. Another contained three relic containers of cast metal weighing 160 pounds with 860 rubies, 19 diamonds, and miscellaneous other valuable gemstones.
There was another chest alleged to contain eight caskets of cedar wood and silver with 3,840 cut stones, ring offering plates, and 4,265 uncut stones. Seven chests were rumored to be filled with 22 candelabra in gold and silver weighing 250 pounds and 164 rubies. And if that all wasn’t enough, there was also said to be a seven-foot-tall solid gold statue of Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus that weighed 780 pounds and was adorned with 1,684 jewels including 4-inch emeralds, 6-inch topazes, and 7 crosses made out of diamonds.
Today, it is said that all of this treasure is worth $208 million USD.
Where is the Treasure Now?
The location of the treasure is a big mystery. Where is it? Did it ever exist to begin with? Locals and treasure hunters go back and forth on this, and the verdict is that no one really knows. Forbes interviewed Genna Marie Davis with an adventure diving company called Undersea Hunter Group who stated, “It's tricky writing about Cocos Island treasures because there is so much hearsay, lore and conflicting information all tangled up that it's difficult to discern the truth. The stories are very fun, but you have to take them with a grain of salt. There was even a lot of misinformation purposefully spread by treasure hunters trying to throw other treasure hunters off the track."
Is the Treasure of Lima real?
Today, Costa Rica prohibits anyone from searching for the treasure. In fact, they claim that it does not exist at all. No one is allowed to stay on the island overnight and the only way to even get to it is via expensive scuba diving trips. It is classified as a nature reserve, therefore disrupting the property at all would be a serious offense.
Has any pirate treasure been found?
The last known “treasure hunt” allowed was in 2012 by Shaun Whitehead. Costa Rican Government officials allowed him and his team to stay on the island for ten days while hunting for the treasure, as they were also doing a lot of other important scientific work. If they’d found anything during the expedition, the promise was that they would alert authorities immediately and stop. In addition to this treasure, the gold of a nineteenth-century Portuguese pirate, Benito 'Bloody Sword' Bonito, is said to be on the island, as well as 350 tons of gold also stolen by Bennett Graham from Spanish ships. Since we haven’t heard anything about it since then, it’s safe to assume that the stash is where it always has been and still has not been discovered.
The Treasure of Lima, Peru, and the Cocos Islands
Is there a seven-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary buried underneath Cocos Island, waiting to be uncovered? Did William Thompson and his first mate James Alexander Forbes take the pirate treasure when they fled the island or come back for it? Did the Treasure of Lima, Peru and the Cocos Islands ever exist at all?
We may never know the truth. But if you’re a treasure hunter like me, all you can do is dream of the riches, gold, and gemstones hiding beneath the island.
Can you find treasure chests, caches, and gold hoards?
Yes, you can you find them! Whether it's gold coins or a lost war chest, treasure can urge anyone on an adventure. Finding a hidden treasure cache, however, can be a challenge. As rewards grow, so do difficulties and the need for more sophisticated deep seeking 2 box metal detecting equipment. If you are new to cache hunting, you have picked the right time. With a modern metal detector, deep caches that went undetected decades ago can be discovered.
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