A man using a metal detector to find jewelry to sell on the black market may have stumbled upon the legendary Nibelung treasure.
The man recently discovered the several pieces of gold and silver, valued at over 1 million euros, in Germany. He was using a metal detector to search in a wooded area of the state of Rhineland-Palatine, the Huffington Post reports.
In response to the man’s findings, some archaeologists are claiming that the gold and silver pieces may be linked to the German Nibelung, the mythical royal family of a Germanic tribe that has often been depicted in poems and literature. The most well-known depiction of the mythology in contemporary literature is Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" ("The Ring of the Nibelung"), a series of four operas pertaining to the legendary treasure.
Although the Nibelung treasure is typically considered a mythical story rather than an actual bounty that can be found in a German forest, government officials explained that they would seriously be considering the find's connection to the folklore. Axel von Berg, State Archaeologist of Rhineland-Palatine, confirmed that the state would be investigating the loot’s connection with the Nibelung.
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“In terms of timing and geography, the find fits with the epoch of the Nibelung legend. But we cannot say whether it actually belongs to the Nibelung treasure,” von Berg said, according to the Telegraph.
More likely, the pieces of gold and silver belonged to a wealthy individual of either Germanic or Roman origin. Archaeologists have dated the various pieces of the find — which also includes artifacts such as bowls and plates — to around 406 AD.
According to The Local, the man who discovered the treasure committed several crimes. Searching with a metal detector in Rhineland-Palatine is an offense itself, and taking the findings without alerting police authorities is also considered criminal activity.
The man faces fraud charges despite eventually alerting the police of his incredible find.