A team of treasure hunters say they’re close to discovering the world’s biggest hoard of gold, jewels and artefacts, dating back thousands of years.
A team of treasure hunters could be on the verge of unearthing the “world’s largest treasure hoard” said to be worth $27 billion.
The team, known as the ‘Temple Twelve’, have been searching in Finland for the “Lemminkainen Hoard”, which consists of gold, jewels and artefacts, since 1987.
The group have been spending their summers searching for the treasure, working six-hour days, seven days a week.
The massive hoard is thought to include some 50,000 gemstones including rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds.
Around 1000 artefacts dating back thousands of years are also thought to be part of the hoard along with a number of 18-carat gold life-size statues.
Members of the group have travelled from all over the world, including Russia, Australia, the US, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, to join in the hunt.
The world-leading authority on the Lemminkainen Hoard Carl Borgen detailed the lives of the hunters and the treasure in his book Temporarily Insane.
“I understand that significant progress at the temple has been made and that the crew are feeling especially excited about the months ahead,” Mr Borgen told The Mirror.
“There is now talk in the camp of being on the brink of a major breakthrough, which in real terms could be the discovery of the world's largest and most valuable treasure trove.”
The existence of the treasure was acknowledged in 1984 when landowner Ior Bock claimed his family were direct descendants of Lemminkäinen, who appear in Finnish pagan mythology.
Mr Bock claimed the chamber on his estate had been sealed up with stone slabs in the 10th century to protect the treasure from invaders.
Bock, who was a quadriplegic following a stabbing in June 1999, was killed by his former assistants in 2010 but the search for the treasure continued after his death.
Born in 1942, Mr Bock was something of an eccentric figure and seen as a 'mystic' and worked as a tour guide at the island fortress of Suomenlinna.
He claimed he was descended from a family line that went back to ancient pagan times which is depicted in the Bock sagas.
It’s thought the hoard is hidden somewhere in the Sibbosberg cave system, 32km east of the Finnish capital Helsinki.
The stash is believed to be located in an underground temple in Sipoo.
Inside the temple there is meant to be a spiralling hallway with small rooms off it where the stash, collected over the generations is stored.
The last time the collection was added to is said to have been in 987AD when the hall was filled and the entrance sealed and hidden.
Countless official explorations trying to find the treasure have taken place over three decades and involving more than 100 professional prospectors from around the world.
The group is now believed to be just metres away from unearthing the treasure and think next summer could be the time when it is uncovered.
The original group which started excavation work in 1987 consisted of 24 people, 12 men and 12 women, although only two of the original team now remain.
The Temple Twelve are expected to return to the site in May next year and resume working there in September.
Who was Lemminkainen?
Lemminkainen ia a key figure in Finnish mythology and one of the heroes of the Kalevala.
It’s thought he is something of a composite figure, made up from various figures in ancient Finnish oral poetry.
He is usually seen as a shamanistic figure, often depicted as being young and handsome with wavy red hair.
In one myth he drowns in the river Tuonela, part of the Underworld, trying to capture or kill the black swan that lives there as he tries to win a daughter of Louhi as his wife.
Another tale see Lemminkainen battle the ferocious beast Surma – a large dog with a snake’s tail that could turn people to stone with just a stare - who guarded the gates of the Tuonela to prevent escape.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission.