Indonesian woman finds gold treasure discovered by tsunami

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by Teresa Teklic

April 3, 2014 – In a small village on the Indonesian island Sumatra, a villager accidentally came across a chest of gold coins. The treasure originally belonged to a cemetery burying rulers of an ancient dynasty that had been destroyed during the great tsunami of 2004.

Gampong Pande is a small village in the north of the Indonesian island Sumatra, close to the city Banda Aceh. Usually, not much happens in Gampong Pande – until the village unexpectedly made all of the regional, and some of the national, headlines.

Buried under sand and oysters, a local woman found a chest of gold coins, as the Jakarta Post reported on November 13, 2013. The treasure comes from an old cemetery in Banda Aceh, where rulers of the Sultanate of Aceh had been buried and which had been destroyed during the great tsunami of 2004. The Sultanate of Aceh was a major political and economic power between the 16th and the beginning of the 20th century in the north of Sumatra. Its capital Banda Aceh, formerly Kutujara, was also an important centre for Islamic mysticism and scholars.

The former burial ground had been avoided by many villagers for a long time because people feared the spirits of the dead. But when word got out that gold had been found, fears were thrown overboard and the village succumbed to the gold rush. Soon the beach was populated by treasure hunters and gold diggers. The woman who had discovered the chest reported to local authorities which then tried to secure the site and confiscate as much of the find as possible. However, by the time they got there, many coins had already been collected by the locals. According to newspaper reports, the authorities promised to compensate the villagers for their finds.

Due to the general chaos on site, estimations of the exact size of the treasure turned out to be difficult. The Bali Post reported that the number of coins in the chest was not clearly determined, but locals had guessed there were several hundred coins. The coins were button-sized (ca. 1 cm diameter) gold coins and carried Arabic characters.

On this event reported a Numismaster article.

You can read up on the topic and see photographs of the coins in these articles by the Daily Mail and the Jakarta Post.