A series of wild coincidences led to the discovery of ancient Egyptian artifacts buried in Scotland.
A student at a Scottish school unearthed the first ancient treasure in 1952.
Researchers are still figuring out how they got there.
Historians are piecing together the wild story behind a series of highly improbable finds of ancient Egyptian treasure — dug up thousands of miles away in Scotland.
It starts in 1952, when a schoolboy was digging up potatoes as a punishment for bad behavior at his school near the tiny village of Monimail, in Fife.
He struck something that he thought was a potato at first — but it turned out to be the head of an ancient Egyptian statue.
Historians discovered that the sandstone statue dated back to the mid-12th Dynasty, or about 1922 to 1855 BC.
More finds would follow.
Fourteen years later, the same boy — identified by historians as Mr McNie — was teaching at the school. He was running an exercise class when one of his pupils landed awkwardly on something sticking out of the ground.
Digging further, he unearthed an Egyptian bronze statuette of a bull, which historians dated to between 664 and 332 BC.
Then, in 1984, schoolboys who had explored the same site with a metal detector alerted a curator, Elizabeth Goring, to another find — an Egyptian bronze figurine.
These discoveries — and the mystery of how they ended up in a Scottish schoolyard — are detailed in a new paper by Goring and fellow curator Margaret Maitland.
"When I saw the little bronze figurine of a man in 1984, it was obvious the three objects must be connected," Goring wrote.
Goring got one of the boys with the metal detector to show her where they found the figurine, so she could excavate further.
"We found nothing," she wrote.
But just as they were about to give up, one of the geologists wandered into a different area — and spotted another figurine lying on the ground. It was a "shabti," a small, mummy-shaped sculpture.
That led to a whole trove of Egyptian objects being unearthed, which are now in the collection of National Museums Scotland.
Some of the finds turned out to be 19th-century copies, but many were genuine ancient relics.
But there was still the mystery of how they got there.
There's no documentation of anyone who owned the property, in its long history, having amassed a collection of Egyptian objects.
Before Melville House was a school, it had belonged to David Leslie-Melville, the 7th Earl of Melville.
The most likely scenario, the researchers now say, is that the objects belonged to Melville's son, Viscount Balgonie, who visited Egypt sometime in 1856 to help with health issues.
His sisters, who were there with him, could have brought vendors selling artifacts to his sick bed while he was there, the researchers said.
Balgonie died a year later, back in Scotland, at the tender age of 24.
The researchers theorize that the objects were then consigned to an outbuilding, and forgotten. The outbuilding was later demolished, and the objects buried with the remnants.
Another theory suggests that they were kept away from the main house because of superstition.
"Pharoah's curse" rumors were just beginning to emerge at this time, the researchers said.
Read the original article on Insider