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A team of treasure hunters are ‘on the brink’ of unearthing £15 billion worth of gold, jewels and ancient artefacts after a decades-long search.
The ‘Lemminkäinen Hoard’, located in an underground temple near Helsinki, Finland, is said to consist of 50,000 gemstones including rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds, and at least 1,000 antiquities dating back thousands of years.
Until now, a 12-strong group of ‘penniless’ friends have excavated the huge site alone, armed with little more than cheap buckets and spades.
However, amateur archaeologists from at least five countries - including the UK - have now vowed to assist ‘in any way possible’.
Over the last 34 years, members of the so-called ‘Temple Twelve’ have each dedicated up to six hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, working tirelessly to remove hundreds of tonnes of rock and clay.
Their efforts hit headlines last year after it was revealed they could be just metres away from reaching the fabled temple door.
The Temple Twelve has since received thousands of enquiries from people hoping to hit the jackpot.
According to historian Carl Borgen, the group’s biographer and sole point of ‘outside’ contact, this ‘small army’ of unpaid volunteers could start arriving on site within a matter of weeks in readiness for when digging resumes in spring.
He said the extra helpers would ‘substantially’ increase the Temple Twelve’s chances of reaching the jackpot – if it exists - this year.
“The existence of an undiscovered hoard of this vast scale has, quite naturally, captured the public’s attention and generated unimaginable levels of support,” he said.
“A small army of people from a variety of countries including the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and Finland have been in touch asking if and how they can help with the dig and with the multitude of preliminary activities.
“If only a handful of those people turn up then the Twelve believe strongly that this season could be the big one and that the cave will finally give up her secrets, whatever they may be.”
The story began back in 1984, after one man claimed that his family – one of the oldest in Scandinavia – were direct descendants of Lemminkäinen, a prominent figure in Finnish pagan mythology.
Bock said the cave, which lies on his sprawling ancestral estate, was home to the fabled Lemminkäinen Temple where the collected treasures from countless generations of ancient Finnish pagans had been stored.
Bock was murdered by a personal assistant in 2010, but his legacy lives on through the hope of uncovering the Lemminkäinen Hoard.
No hard evidence of the hoard has yet been found, but the team is confident that they will reach the temple entrance when digging resumes in May.
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