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No digging for treasure despite expiration of court order

While a court order to stop excavation at the site in San Salvador where pirate gold is thought to be buried expires tomorrow, excavation still cannot resume until permits are granted by the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation(AMMC)to the group undertaking the excavations.

Chairman of the AMMC Orry Sands said the group of excavators, headed by the woman who has claimed title to the land, Dorothy Black-Beal, was doing the work under an expired permit before they were ordered by the court to discontinue.

However, the work was not stopped by the court because of the expired permits but because Black-Beal and another claimant of the land, Dennis Bethel, are involved in a dispute over the property that sits on Fortune Hill in San Salvador.

It is said that pirate treasure was found on the site years ago and helped a Bahamian family amass a fortune. Sands said the AMMC is not interested in treasure per se, but artifacts.

She said the AMMC is awaiting an application from the Black-Beal group so that its board can determine whether or not to issue another permit.

“I have spoken to the effect that the application(to excavate for artifacts)has to be presented,”she said.

“You have to follow the regulations and do what the regulations require you to do.”

According to Sands, the AMMC has oversight at any archaeological dig that could unearth artifacts. She said if the group is given permission to resume their excavations, a qualified archaeologist appointed by the AMMC will be at the dig site throughout the process.

The Nassau Guardianlearned recently that a retired school teacher was appointed to represent the interests of the AMMC when the digging began early last month.

Bethel told this paper that while the Black-Beal group is putting its documentation together for the permit, he is seeking an injunction against the excavation until the land dispute has been settled.

“Right now we looking to go for the injunction if by Thursday they don’t concede that they are not supposed to be there,”he said.

In 2007, Bethel and his family successfully stopped another group of treasure hunters from digging on the land.

Ellamae Rolle, a third claimant of the land where the treasure site lies, said she grew up on Fortune Hill and contends her family purchased the land where the treasure is reportedly buried, from the father of Dorothy Black-Beal.

Rolle contends her father watched over the cave where the treasure is said to be hidden, until the day he died.

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