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Who Are the Real Treasure Hunters of Today?


There’s a huge difference between money and treasure, and there are still several hunters of the latter. Who are they?

The thirst of pirates runs through our veins, even if time has dwindled it with a thousand tricks to keep us “on land”. But that thirst is slumbering, not extinct. Some of us still have some of that “everlasting itch for things remote” that invaded Ishmael in Moby Dick. Some of us would love to go out in search for a treasure buried deep in an ocean cave, or an enormous “X” at the top of a mountain.

To think about finding a hidden treasure is not entirely fantasy driven. As a matter of fact, at the bottom of the ocean, slowly crystalizing, there lie more than three million shipwrecks, all of which keep the treasures that sunk with them hundreds of years ago, some in the shape of pristinely preserved cultural patrimony, others in the shape of gold, sparkling and pure.

Those treasures lie so deeply underwater that no human being can reach them, but science is doing wonders to reach those regions. The possibility of finding something of worth is as irresistible today as once was the gold rush, and this is because treasures are a promise that what we see is not everything there is ––that the earth hides jewels in the ins and outs of its folds, perhaps for the fortunate one or the devotee who wants to know a little more.

Thanks to so many novels and archeological findings, we know that some civilizations which preceded us took time to hide the things they valued the most in order to return for them one day, or simply to leave them there for posterity. Our posterity, that is. Treasure hunters have a reason for existing, and are a literal manifestation of what each of us seeks in the immediacy of a life. “A light, a fissure”, Borges would say, through which El Dorado we seek peeks through.

Seen this way, scientists, in their eternal search for the truth, are and have been the true treasure hunters of history (“Eureka!” yelled Archimedes when he realized, sitting in a bathtub full of water, how he could measure the volume of an irregular object). They are the survivors of pirates, the readers of those cyphered riddles that lead to a large “X” announcing the exact site of the truth.

Dragons guard treasures, and that is how we know they are valuable.

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