An amateur archaeologist recently unearthed a trove of gold and silver in a wooded area in western Germany. The finding, estimated to be worth more than 1 million euros (about $1.37 million), has some wondering whether the jewels are part of the legendary Nibelung treasure, Germany’s The Local reports.
The enormous bounty was illegally dug up by a man with a metal detector in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Authorities seized the bounty after the man reportedly tried to sell the wares on the black market. Upon closer inspection, archaeologists realized the extravagant finding and the Nibelung treasure may be one and the same.
Yet, they’re not quite sure.
“In terms of timing and geography, the find fits in with the epoch of the Nibelung legend,” Axel von Berg, the state’s chief archaeologist said, according to Reuters. “But we cannot say whether it actually belongs to the Nibelung treasure.”
Lost to time, the Nibelung riches are believed to have been buried somewhere along the Rhine — perhaps even at the bottom of the river that flows through Germany, as the epic poem “The Song of the Nibelungs“ describes. Modern-day treasure hunters have searched for the mythic treasure for decades but have never uncovered the priceless bounty of gold and jewels that once belonged to an ancient German king.
“It’s one of the few remaining adventures,” Hans Jörg Jacobi, a German architect who is obsessed with the Nibelung treasure, told Deutsche Welle last year, adding, “you have to believe in it.”
As legend goes, a German prince and dragon-slayer named Siegfried once possessed the Nibelung treasure, which was named after a race of dwarves. However, the riches were taken from him by Hagen von Tronje, a vassal of the Queen of Iceland who murdered Siegfried to avenge his empress.
After Hagen killed Siegfried and stole the Nibelung treasure, he is believed to have thrown it into the Rhine — but where exactly, no one knows. Whether the treasure sunk to the bottom of the German river or followed the current until it washed up somewhere, has been at the center of speculation for centuries.
Authorities have since launched an investigation into the man who illegally excavated the treasure.