Museums are home to collections of relics from around the world, allowing the general public to interact with history. However, many of those relics fail to hold a candle to certain extraordinary artifacts that have gone missing over the years. From ancient reserves to abandoned WWI artifacts, lost treasures are a staple of both fictional and real-life adventures.
Most of the more well-known missing artifacts will likely never get recovered - many were wiped out - but this won't deter relic hunters who continue to search for treasures to this day. All it takes is one new story about rare artifacts found in pawn shops to keep the dream alive.
Two Of Charles Darwin's Notebooks Were Likely Taken From The Cambridge University LibraryPhoto: Cambridge University Library
On November 24, 2020 - the anniversary of the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species - the Cambridge University Library released a public appeal seeking help finding two of Darwin's notebooks that have been missing since 2001. After an "exhaustive search," the library concluded that the written notebooks, which it estimates are worth "millions of pounds," have probably been taken. One of the notebooks contains Darwin's famed 1837 "Tree of Life" sketch, topped with the words "I think," pictured here.
“Someone, somewhere, may have knowledge or insight that can help us return these notebooks to their proper place at the heart of the UK’s cultural and scientific heritage," said Dr. Jessica Gardner, University Librarian and Director of Library Services.
The notebooks had been removed from the library's Strong Rooms, where the most rare items are kept, for photos in September 2000, and during a check in January 2001, the library discovered the box that held the notebooks was missing. At first officials though it had just been misplaced in the vast library, but eventually concluded they must have been taken.
No One Knows The Whereabouts Of The Bayeux Tapestry's Final Panels
The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the most recognizable treasures from the Middle Ages that still exists today. Reportedly created within a few years of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 CE, the lengthy narrative wall-hanging depicts William the Conqueror's invasion of England.
Uncovered in 1729, the tapestry spans 230 feet long, but it is missing its final scene, as evidenced by its frayed ending and lack of a narrative conclusion. While modern-day embroiderers have attempted to complete the story, the real final panels of the Bayeux Tapestry have never turned up.
Blackbeard's Treasure May Still Be Out There
Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard, may have tight competition for the title of most famous pirate, but when it comes to pirate lore, his missing treasure is the most well-known piece of lost history. In 1718, Blackbeard and Queen Anne's Revenge supposedly ran aground on a sandbar in North Carolina; no one has ever found the enormous trove of treasure that the ship reportedly carried.
Since this incident neither rendered the ship unusable - and experts argue if this ship is indeed Queen Anne's Revenge - nor significantly impacted the people aboard it, the crew would have had more than enough time to unload and conceal their haul. As of 2018, there is no definitive find of Blackbeard's purported treasure.
Somebody Seemingly Took JFK's Brain
At some point between 1963 - the year when President John F. Kennedy passed - and 1966, JFK's brain - which medical professionals had removed during his autopsy - went missing from its storage place in the National Archives. Nobody can explain when, how, or why this happened.
Numerous conspiracies abound about this case, with one theory centering on JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy. Some believe Robert took the brain to hide evidence of the many supposed illnesses JFK was hiding from the public while he was in office.