30 Of The World's Most Valuable Treasures That Remain Lost To Time

By Sarah Norman | October 28, 2023

The Lost Poems of Sappho

In the realm of lost treasures, there exists an allure that beckons explorers, historians, and dreamers alike. These coveted riches, steeped in mystery and steeped in the echoes of history, ignite our imaginations and fuel our curiosity. From ancient artifacts to masterful artworks, the stories behind these lost treasures evoke a sense of wonder, intrigue, and longing.

Join us on a captivating journey as we delve into the depths of time, uncovering tales of vanished wealth and the enigmatic fates that have befallen them. Brace yourself for a treasure hunt like no other, where the past comes alive, and the whispers of forgotten riches stir the soul. Welcome to the realm of lost treasures—a realm where legends are born and secrets await discovery.

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This mosaic fragment depicts the poetess Sappho. DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images

Renowned for her lyrical mastery, Sappho, the seventh-century B.C. Greek poet, was a titan of her era, drawing admiration and reverence from her contemporaries. However, unlike the legacy of Shakespeare to whom she's often compared, only fragments of her prolific output have survived to the present day. In a remarkable discovery in 2014, Dirk Obbink, a papyrologist from the University of Oxford, unveiled sections of two previously unseen poems by Sappho. One delves into familial bonds, focusing on her brothers, while the other explores the painful realm of unrequited love.

Despite their significance, these poetic fragments have a hazy provenance. An article penned by Obbink in 2021 that detailed their origin was retracted by the publishing house Brill, casting doubts on their exact origins. This shroud of uncertainty only deepens the enigma of Sappho's work, blending mystery with the poignant beauty of her verse.

The Everest Enigma - George Mallory's Missing Frame of Triumph

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George Mallory (left) with Andrew Irvine in the last known photo of them on their fatal Everest climb in June 1924. (Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd./Alamy)

High atop the unforgiving slopes of Mount Everest, a centuries-old mystery continues to baffle the world - the unresolved fate of British explorers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. On a storm-ridden day in June 1924, the duo made their daring final push towards the peak, only to be swallowed by the mountain's merciless white maw. Their disappearance sparked a haunting question that has lingered through the decades: Did Mallory and Irvine conquer Everest's peak before their tragic demise?

In 1999, a poignant clue surfaced when Mallory's frozen body was discovered, bearing signs of a fatal fall. However, the body of his companion, Irvine, remains lost within the icy fortress of Everest. But alongside this elusive quest lies another tantalizing prospect: the discovery of their camera. This piece of antiquity could hold the answer to the age-old enigma, captured in celluloid stills, frozen in time.

If Irvine's body is ever located, the hope is that the camera will be found with him. The grand vision of developing preserved film from their expedition tantalizes the world. If the images can be retrieved, they might reveal whether Mallory and Irvine indeed beheld the summit's view before meeting their end.

Today, George Mallory's lost camera is not merely an artifact; it is a vessel of a timeless mystery, a potential key to a question that has taunted mountaineers and historians for a century. Will the Everest Enigma ever be solved? Only time, and perhaps a frozen frame atop the world's highest peak, can tell.