Treasure of the Great Basses Reef

The 260+ Year Old Silver Rupee

In 1961, Arthur C. Clarke, inventor of satellite communications and Oscar nominee for 2001: a space odyssey, was living in Ceylon. While scouting an underwater location for a movie, several of his dive associates discovered the remains of a shipwreck on Great Basses Reef. Buried among the debris were concreted masses of silver rupees. Translation indicated that the coins had been minted in Surat, India, in the Muslim year AH 1113, of the Gregorian year 1702, during the 45th and 46th year of reign of Emperor Aurangzeb. Flowing across the obverse, just below the date, is the poetic couplet, "Shah Aurangzeb lamgir, the ruler, throne adorner, world grasper, struck coin in the world like the shining full moon."

The treaure discovery is detailed in Arthur C. Clarke's 1964 The Treasure of the Great Reef and Indian Ocean Treasure. It is the only known sunken treasure from the Taj Mahal dynasty.

Presently, there are only five coin masses in existence. To preserve historic integrity, one rests in the Smithsonian Institute and another is placed in the "Clarkives" in Minehead, England, commemorating Clarke's underwater adventures. The remaining three represent the remainder of Arthur C. Clarke's personal collection, less than 2,300 coins, still as gleaming and uncirculated as the day they left the counting house in Surat, 30 years before George Washington was born.

Research conducted in 1993 by Robert W. Hoge, curator of the American Numismatic Association, reveals there is only one published example of the Ah 1113, regnal year 46, issue rupee in the Catalogue of the Coins in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, 1908. And until the Great Basses discovery, no other examples were known to exist. As a result, Capt. Carl Fismer, master treasure salvor and Taj Mahal Treasure project advisor, suggests that the majority of this mint run was lost on the Great Basses Reef.

The dissemination of Emperor Aurangzeb's riches has created such interest that two television programs, Arthur C. Clarke: Before 2001 and In Search of Weightlessness, have been completed, and at the time this was acquired, a dramatic two-hour television motion picture, were in production by Southern Cross Entertainment Group, under the direction of Robert Lewis Knecht.

The silver rupee accompanying this Certificate of Authentication was recovered from Great Basses Reef, Ceylon, in 1963.

A Silver Rupee 260+ Years Old Mounted in Medallion

Medallion Reverse

Wooden Storage Case

Close-Up of Lid

Booklet "The Making of..."

Certificate of Authenticity


This is the story of Aurangzeb's riches, which has become known as the Taj Mahal Treasure, and has been the subject of three television programs, including a made-for-TV motion picture.

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