Sunday, January 3, 2010


Photo courtesy of James

The definition:
“surrounding conditions: the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place”

As treasure hunters or those just interested in treasure hunting, we all have seen or even taken photos and videos of different symbols and markers and have wondered; what do they mean? We have people from all over the country, actually from several different countries, that send us photos of different things wanting our opinion of what they mean. We try to give an honest interpretation of what we see but there are things that can’t be properly interpreted without knowing the context surrounding the symbols or markers.

Interpreting symbols and markers, no matter who left them behind, is about looking at them within the context that they were made. I may have tried to make this point before but I’m getting old and old people tend to repeat themselves a lot.

Did I mention that old people tend to repeat themselves a lot?

Looking at a symbol in context to me has two different meanings. First, the true definition as listed above means you have to look at the who and why of the symbols/markers. Having a good idea of who left the symbols will almost always give you the why they left the symbols/markers. This would give you a very good head start on what to do.

This means research. It’s rare that you can go onto a site with no prior knowledge of what you are looking for or who was there and work a site. It’s also poor judgment in my opinion to go to a site with a preconceived idea of who was there because this will no doubt cloud your judgment and your interpretation of any symbols or markers.

Different groups did things different ways and for different reasons. Although a lot of things can be like something else, such as symbols used by the military during the Civil War and symbols used by outlaws, other things will be completely different. What the Spanish did and why will be different from what the French did. Pirates, arggggg!, will do things differently than outlaws did, etc.

Once you have determined the who and why, it may be that the symbols/markers aren’t treasure related so you can discount that area and move on to something else. It could also be that there is something historical tied to the symbols/markers that you still may want to pursue, depending on what you are looking for. There are several reasons for symbols and markers to be left behind that aren’t related to treasure. You have to try to keep from jumping to any conclusions without doing your research first. After that, jumping to conclusions is part of the hunt, it’s just that a lot of the conclusions will be wrong and require you to rethink theories and interpretations until you hit upon the correct one.

If the symbols/markers are determined to be treasure related then you have to go to the (my) second meaning of context and look at the symbols and markers within the context of the area surrounding them. For the most part, carved symbols will be topographical or informational in nature. The symbols will be telling you to do this or go that way and look for this or that. This is why knowing the terrain around the area where the carvings were left is crucial. It’s all about context.

Even though the Spanish, outlaws, pirates, arrgggg! and the French, etc. all did things differently and for different reasons a lot of how they used the symbols will be the same. Carved symbols for the most part are…….. that’s right, I’m repeating myself again, but they will be topographical in nature. Most of the topography depicted in carvings will be small, especially with outlaw and Civil War stuff. By small I mean you are looking at “steps” or “moves” of 30-100 feet at a time.
Spanish “moves” will be bigger until you get close to the hole. Pirates, arrggggg! are a strange lot and each had some of their own “code” to give them the information they needed to find the booty they left behind. They had some great maps and carvings but some of them can be really strange and therefore difficult to interpret.

Things can change drastically when you are dealing with a carry around type map. The “moves” can be bigger and the context in which you look at the map may be different. By this I mean a carry around map can, and most likely will encompass a lot more area, maybe a mile or more of terrain. This changes the context of how you look at the map in that you are still looking at an area but the area is much bigger than with a carving. It’s still about the terrain, the who and the why but the terrain has gotten bigger and so will some of the “steps” or “moves”.
Treasure hunting can be difficult and confusing on a good day. Making it harder by not being prepared with the right information or looking at something in the wrong context will just make it even worse.

It’s not what you look at but what you see!

No comments: