Lost Treasures of the World (Top 10)

Artifacts have been lasting historical evidence since the dawn of humanity, but unfortunately some have disappeared over time. Here are some famous examples of lost treasures around the world.

Jun 17, 2020By Vladislav Tchakarov, BA History
faberge eggs russian royal family
Faberge Eggs – some of the most renowned treasures of the Russian Royal Family


From ancient times to the present day, countless stories and legends tell of priceless lost treasures from all over the world, gone without a trace. For some, we have no conclusive evidence, while for others, it is clear that they existed at some point in history, but have disappeared mysteriously – buried in hidden locations or stolen and lost. Undoubtedly, any of these treasures would change history and enrich our knowledge of the past, but after centuries of searching, they are unlikely to be discovered. The lost treasures of the world are innumerable, but there are a few with special significance to history. Here are 10 lost treasures of the world whose value cannot be measured.


10. The Tomb of Genghis Khan 

portrait genghis khan
Genghis Khan, National Palace Museum, Taiwan


Genghis Khan’s death is shrouded in mystery. The great khan died in the summer of 1227, during a campaign along the upper reaches of the Yellow River in Yinchuan. The real cause of his death remains unknown. 

It is logical to assume that he died from injuries received during the battle. It is also logical to believe that these wounds did not come from an enemy arrow, as Italian explorer Marco Polo suggested, but from falling from his horse while hunting. 

The secrecy surrounding Genghis Khan’s death gave birth to so much speculation and later inspired an endless stream of apocryphal stories that hardly differentiate from pure fiction. 

Historians claim that many years before his death, Genghis Khan wished to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Burkhan Khaldun Mountains in Mongolia. 

After the death of Genghis Khan, his body was transported by his soldiers back to his homeland, where he was buried at his own request – in an unmarked grave, somewhere in the heart of the Burkhan Khaldun Mountains. 

As he himself requested during his lifetime, the place was not marked in any way – no mausoleum, no temple, no tombstone. 

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter

Based on the legends, every soldier, involved in the burial, was killed in order to keep the location secret. Other myths claim that his people released a thousand horses in the area to further hide any signs of human activity and that they also altered the flow of the nearby river to run over his grave. 

A large area of land surrounding the resting place of the khan was later closed to the public and protected by soldiers and even today, it remains sacred. Even after centuries of research and excavations, no trace of a tomb has been found, making it one of the most significant lost treasures of all time.  


9. The Knights Templar Treasure

knights templar relics
Relics from the Knights Templar, 12th-13th century, Corinium Museum 


The Knights Templar were one of the first and most famous religious military orders in Europe, founded in 1119. Its original purpose was to support the new kingdom of Jerusalem against Muslim neighbors and to protect Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Places. 

Over time, the Order gained enormous influence and wealth. Seeing a threat in the face of the Templars, Philip IV won the assistance of the Pope to deal with them. In 1307 he arrested the most influential knights and smashed their treasury. 

However, it turned out to be empty. What the Templar treasure is and where it is hidden remains a mystery that has fascinated the world for 7 centuries. 

8. Lost Dutchman Mine 

arizona superstition mountain
Superstition Mountains in Arizona 


As long as you are interested in treasures, you have definitely heard of the Lost Dutchman Mine, located in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, Arizona. 

The Lost Dutchman Mine is an alleged gold mine found by a powerful Mexican family in the early 1800s. For years, they extracted as much gold as they could while keeping it a secret until their final expedition ended with the death of nearly the entire family, killed by the Apache in the region. 

The last person to allegedly have seen the mine was the German immigrant Jacob Walzer who found it in the late 1800s with his partner and hid part of the gold somewhere in the mountains. Until his death in 1891, he described the location of the mine to only one person – his neighbor, who looked after him in his final days.

Nevertheless, many have tried to find it unsuccessfully. In fact, the area and the treasure itself are nowadays considered to be cursed since many who tried to find the treasure in the past never came back. 


7. The Library of the Moscow Tsars

ivan the terrible portrait
Portrait of Ivan the Terrible by Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov, 1897


The library of the Moscow Tsars, otherwise known as the library of Ivan the Terrible since it disappeared after his death, is believed to have contained a legendary collection of ancient books. 

The lost library of the terrible Russian tsar continues to be a great challenge for historians and archaeologists. The point is that to date, there is no convincing evidence that it even existed. 

The library contained more than 800 books, including unique masterpieces of Greek and Roman literature, inherited by Ivan the Terrible from his grandmother Sofia, who originally brought the library to Moscow from Rome. 

The tsar, who gained the fame of a cruel ruler, not only inherited the library but enriched it with rare manuscripts from all over Europe. 

The list included 142 volumes of the History of Rome by Titus Livius from which only 35 are known today, the full version of Cicero’s treatises “De Re Publica” from which only small parts have survived modern days, and numerous other ancient manuscripts. 

According to legend, Ivan the Terrible hid the collection somewhere in Moscow, but after his death in 1584, no one could say where it was and did it even exist. Can you imagine how much it would change history if this most valuable of lost treasures is ever discovered?


6. The Amber Room

amber room recreation romanov
Recreation of the Amber Room originally in Charlottenburg Palace


A symbol of both Russian and German masterpieces, the Amber Room was the pride and joy of the Romanov House. It mysteriously disappeared during World War II and has been unknown ever since. And while Russian masters and scientists are recreating this amazing place in the 21st century, the location of the original Amber Room continues to spark debate among enthusiasts.

Peter the Great, the first Russian emperor to rule from 1682 to 1721, is known for his love of curiosities. His collection of unusual and unique objects or the so-called Kunstkamera, a room full of exceptional things – from minerals to deformed human embryos, continues to be displayed in St. Petersburg. 

Even in Peter’s time, every monarch in Europe knew that there was no better way to please the powerful Russian tsar than to give him an extraordinary gift.

This is what the Prussian Friedrich Wilhelm I did when he wanted to win Peter’s favor. In 1716, he presented the Russian emperor with a room designed by the best Baroque Prussian architects and sculptures, decorated with amber and gold. This was the famous Amber Room, which was later called the Eighth Wonder of the World for its stunning beauty.

During the reign of Adolf Hitler, Germany officially announced that many works of art from previous centuries, including the room, had been stolen by the German people.

According to Alfred Rode, a German art critic who supposedly took care of the Amber Room after it was stolen, it survived even the heavy bombings of Konigsberg in 1944 where it was allegedly kept. However, the Soviet troops found no trace of it once they captured the city. 

And just like that, one of the most exceptional treasures of the world was lost. 


5. Ark of the Covenant

ark of the covenant recreation
Recreation of the Ark of the Covenant 


The Ark of the Covenant undoubtedly remains one of the most mystical objects mentioned in the Bible. Everyone remembers Spielberg’s immortal classic “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, where the brave Indiana Jones went through great adventures to discover the priceless artifact. But what exactly was the ark?

According to the descriptions in the Bible, it was a chest of acacia wood with a gold casing, which symbolized the presence of God among the people. Inside, was kept a golden pot with “heavenly manna”, Aaron’s rod, and two plates with God’s commandments written on them, received by the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai.

The ark was carried by the Jews to the Promised Land. By his supernatural powers, Yahweh’s people were invincible. The power of the ark dried up the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross and sent diseases to the Philistines, who dared to fight the elect of God.

The ark still existed during the reign of King Josiah in the 7th century BC. It is believed to have been lost during the conquest of Jerusalem by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC or earlier, as it was not mentioned among the relics and treasures looted from Solomon’s temple. Obeying God’s command, the Israelites never created another ark, and its secret remained irretrievably lost.


4. Romanov Easter Eggs

romanov easter egg faberge
Lilies of the Valley Fabergé Egg, 1898, The Arts Society


Peter Carl Faberge was a Russian jeweler of French descent. He is known for the exceptional quality and beauty of his work and especially for the popular Faberge Eggs.

The royal tradition of the Faberge Eggs began with Tsar Alexander III who in 1885 ordered a decorative Easter egg from Faberge’s studio as a gift for his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna.

When she received the gift, Maria Feodorovna saw an ordinary egg, made from white gold. But the emperor had prepared several surprises within the egg. As she opened it, she found a golden yolk. In a similar way to the Russian matryoshka, the egg had more surprises waiting to be found – the yolk was to be opened to reveal a golden hen with ruby ​​eyes. 

Inside the golden hen, there was a miniature copy of the imperial crown made of gold and diamonds, as well as a small ruby ​​for the Empress to wear on a chain around her neck. This original egg remains in history under the name “Hen”.

From this day onward, the crown would have Faberge make one egg per year for Alexander III until his death. This tradition was continued by his successor Nicholas II who, in total, ordered 44 more eggs. 

The exact number of the eggs remains unknown since several were made for other rich Russian families. It is believed that there were around 70 in total but the mystery here is that 8 of the royal eggs have gone missing. 

Each of the surviving Faberge eggs is worth millions of dollars which means that the ones that are missing would be worth even more. 


3. Jewels of King John

portrait king john treasures
Portrait of King John, 1597-1618, National Portrait Gallery


King John of England (1166 – 1216) loved to collect jewelry and gold plates, and his collection was immeasurable. In 1216, the king traveled to Lynn in Norfolk in an area aptly called the Swamp because it consisted of vast areas of dangerous swamps.

There, King John contracted dysentery and decided to return to Newark Castle for treatment. Of course, he took a safe route, albeit a slower one, but his soldiers and carts, full of jewelry, personal belongings, and even the crowns inherited from his grandmother, the Empress of Germany, took the short and dangerous route through the swamps.

There they disappeared. His treasure carriage was lost and never found again. King John himself died days later, further ending the story. When you think about it, King John’s treasure is often considered to be the largest royal treasure in history. Was it truly lost due to the high tides or a wrong step into the swamps or was it stolen by his own kin?


2. Lost Inca Gold

ancient gold el dorado
Ancient artwork depicting the origin of the El Dorado myth, Gold Museum in Bogota


Many legends speak of the lost city of Paititi. According to some, this is where the ancient Incas, in their despair, hid their treasure from the Europeans during their invasion of South America. Thanks to the unknown location and the legends surrounding the lost city, Paititi has become synonymous with the legendary El Dorado.

According to researchers, the golden city is located in the jungles of Peru. Many other settlements were found during the search, in which clear information about the existence of Paititi was found. Whether it is a legend like El Dorado, whether it exists, and whether these two places are not actually the same will be understood in the future.


1. Dead Sea Copper Scroll Treasures

dead sea scroll treasures
Fragment of a Dead Sea Scroll,  Jordan Museum, Amman


At the northern end of the Dead Sea near the town of Kalya, Palestine, is the Qumran archeological site. This is the location of the caves where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin in 1946.

Later excavations of 11 caves by archaeologists have revealed 972 texts of parchment and papyrus and two unusual scrolls of copper, which are probably two parts of the same artifact.

The Copper Scroll in question was discovered in 1952, in the back of cave №3 and differs not only in material but in contents. It turned out that this is a detailed list of 64 places where significant amounts of gold and silver are supposedly hidden. 

Unfortunately, the locations are written as if the reader would recognize the mentioned places without the need for precise instructions which is why the mystery remains unsolved to this day. 

It is believed to have been created in the last century B.C. Although many historians believe that some of the treasures may have been found by the Romans during their invasion of the region, it is reasonable to think that at least some of the sites were never discovered.

Author Image

By Vladislav TchakarovBA HistoryVladislav Tchakarov is a History student at Sofia University in Bulgaria and a contributing writer at TheCollector. Originally from Bulgaria, he moved to the Netherlands to work and study Business Management before realizing that his passion for history is too great which lead to his return to Bulgaria and the beginning of his History studies.