Villager on oyster hunt strikes gold

Villager on oyster hunt strikes gold

INDONESIA - A poor village woman searching for oysters in a swamp has found a centuries-old chest filled with gold coins - a fabulous treasure uprooted from an ancient cemetery in the 2004 tsunami.

The chance discovery of the chest, covered in coral and oyster shells, has sparked a small gold rush to the swamps around Gampong Pande village in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

The area had been devastated by the tsunami, Jakarta Post reported.

The cemetery contained the bones of 13th century rulers who had been buried with their treasures.

When the woman, up to her thighs in thick, oozing mud, lifted the lid, she stared in amazement at its contents. The chest was filled with gold coins of varying sizes, Mail Online reported.

"They spilled out as soon as she opened the chest," Mr Abdullah, who uses only one name, told the Jakarta Post.

The woman reported the find to the authorities, who took possession of the coins, but not before many of them were taken away by locals.

As the news spread, hundreds of people rushed to the area to look for coins.

They brought with them simple tools for digging into the mud and scraping sand from the bottom of a river that runs near the site of the ancient tombs.

Those lucky enough to find coins lying loose sold them, earning 350,000 rupiah (S$38) for a coin the size of a button and 800,000 rupiah for a coin the size of a current 100 rupiah.

Mr Husaini Ibrahim, an Indonesian historian, said the area should immediately be preserved because it is rich in Acehnese history.

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