Inca breakthrough after greatest treasure ring ever found in America uncovered on beach

Beyond Oak Island: Gary recalls Inca civilization gold discovery

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The Inca first appeared in the Andes region during the 12th century AD, gradually building themselves an empire through a vast kingdom. Known as Tawantinsuyu, the Inca state spanned the distance of northern Ecuador to central Chile. At its peak, some 12 million inhabitants from more than 100 different ethnic groups lived within its borders.

The empire was able to rapidly grow and expand its frontiers via a well-devised agricultural and roadway system.

While one of the most powerful and advanced civilisations in South America at the time, the Inca quickly succumbed to the disease and superior weaponry of Spanish invaders.

Many of the invaders collected hoards of gold and jewels to take back to Europe.

Great collections of these treasures have since turned up all around the world.

Gary Drayton, a metal detecting expert, flaunted his Inca find during the History channel’s series, ‘Beyond Oak Island’, later sharing it to Instagram. 

While metal detecting near Vero Beach in Florida, he came across a 22 and a half carat Inca gold ring, with nine “flawless” emeralds adorning its centrepiece.

Mr Drayton described it as: “The greatest treasure ring ever found in America.”

It is worth $750,000 (£541,000)

The show went on to explain how a hurricane was behind the ring ending up on the beach.

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By the mid 18th century, hundreds of Spanish, French and Portuguese treasure galleons attempted to navigate their way from South and Central America back to their home nations and monarchs.

Bobby Pritchett, of Global Marine Exploration Inc, said: “A lot of treasure was smuggled.

“If they said they had a hundred million dollars worth, they might have had two hundred million.

“There was a lot of hidden treasure because they didn’t want to pay taxes on it.”


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Jewellery was not taxed at the same rate as bullion by the crown, so travellers would make jewellery from everything they could in order to avoid the taxes.

In 1715, King Philip V of Spain found himself in a personal quandary that motivated him to launch a new fleet of ships to bring gold, silver and jewels back from the new world.

Mr Drayton said: “So King Philip gave out the word, ‘I need the treasure’, because he was married to Isabel, and she wouldn’t consummate the marriage unless she got the dowry of jewels.”

The 1715 fleet consisted of 11 ships, six fixed with treasure while the others were heavily armed in order to protect the cargo.

Mr Drayton continued: “Unfortunately the 1715 fleet, they made it through the Florida straits, but they were hit by a horrendous hurricane on July 31, 1715.”

The entire fleet, and billions of pounds of treasure – including Isabel’s jewels – was lost.

Today, some 300 years later, the stretch of Florida coastline near Vero Beach, is known as ‘the Treasure Coast’, due to the vast riches that often wash ashore.

Mr Drayton said he “knew” what the ring was as soon as he laid eyes on it.

He said: “This would have been destined for Queen Isabel.”

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