ISTANBUL — A small village in the Western province of Bursa has become the centre of a modern tale of treasure hunt as officials search for gold and other personal belongings of Armenian families who left their homeland after the Turkish war of independence.

Officials have formed a commission headed by an archeologist to perform the excavations at the Keramet village under one of the hamlet’s houses where the valuable items of the Armenian families are believed to be buried.

“According to the recounting of the village’s elders, many Armenian families settled at the Keramet village. They have all migrated except for one after the war of independence. The family that remained apparently said that those Armenians who had escaped hid their gold and other belongings under our house,” said the owner of the house, Efkan Ari.

“This rumor circulated for years. So when the muhtar [village administrator] became concerned that the abandoned house could collapse at any moment and ordered its destruction, we wanted to gain permission and have the excavation begun,” Ari added.

However, gaining that permission has not been easy and it took officials more than a year to process the claims. The excavations, carried out under the surveillance of Gendarmerie Forces, started on Nov. 1 and could legally be continued for a month longer.

Any gold that might be unearthed will be split between the state and the owner while antiquities have to be transferred to the state treasury, according to the laws.

Information or rumors with regards to the Armenian families who used to live in the village are more scarce, it is even unknown if they managed to complete their hazardous journey unharmed.

However the treasure tale at the Keramet village – a name that could not bode better omen as it means ‘prophecy’ – may one day enlighten their stories and their old life in Anatolia.

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