A group of construction workers thought they had struck their fortunes when they dug up 18 silver ingots at a building site in the central business district of the east China port city of Ningbo.
They secretly divided up the ancient treasure trove and then hid it all away.
However, their luck turned when local police heard about the discovery and started to investigate.
The workers -- after much persuasion -- turned in all the silver ingots, which were handed over to the local cultural heritage authority for proper preservation on Wednesday.
The 18 silver ingots, three of which bear inscriptions and pictures, date from the Yuan Dynasty, some 700 years ago.
Experts confirmed all 18 pieces are relics under special preservation by the Chinese government. One of them, a 3.77-kilogram silver ingot with intact inscriptions, is identified as very rare and only seven of its kind have been found in China.
Ningbo, a famous city of historic and cultural interest, has thousands of years of history. The local government has called on the citizens to contribute to the preservation of the old city and all its relics.
(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2002)