Cleaning out a relative’s attic can often be an arduous and uneventful task, but it does have the potential to be quite interesting. It might not seem like an exciting chore, but there’s always the chance that you’ll uncover something about your family that you didn’t know before.

For instance, when Mike and Maria Lopez were recently tasked with cleaning their grandfather’s attic, they had no idea what to expect, especially with all the tall tales he’d told them of his past. But nothing could’ve prepared them for what they found hidden in one unmarked box…

Many people wonder if there might be some sort of fabulous treasure tucked away in the attic of their childhood home. There has to be something in all of those boxes, right? A man named Mark Lopez, however, never really thought this way.

As kids, Mark and his sister, Maria, were told plenty of outlandish stories from their grandfather. Still, it never crossed their minds that he was telling the truth. He was just entertaining them, right?

For instance, when Mark and Maria were young, their grandfather used to claim that he’d located the treasure of José Gaspar, a notorious Spanish pirate, many years ago. The children enjoyed the story, but they never took it seriously.

After their grandfather passed away, Mark and Maria were tasked with cleaning his attic. They figured they’d find nothing of value… until they made a startling discovery inside an unmarked box that changed everything they thought they knew about him!

Among the items that Mark and Maria found inside the strange container was a picture of two people on their wedding day. While they had no proof, the siblings assumed it was likely a photograph of their great-grandparents.

Also inside the box was a crude map of Tampa, Florida, from the 1930s. Why would their grandfather keep such a bizarre item seemingly drawn by hand? Still, there were other items to add to the mystery…

Mark and Maria also found an array of what they believed to be Portuguese and Spanish coins dating all the way back to the 16th century. Perhaps there really was some truth to their grandfather’s stories?

“Maybe my great-grandparents were pirates,” Mark joked later, while admitting that the truth can sometimes be shocking. Still, he and his sister hadn’t seen anything yet! They kept digging through their grandfather’s stuff…

Quite disturbingly, the chest also contained a preserved human hand! It really must have seemed like something from straight out of a horror film. What the heck was their grandfather doing with a hand?

Both Mark and Maria were in complete shock when they discovered the hand. “Maria came across it and once she told me she found a hand in a box. I was totally blown away,” he admitted after their find.

Why would their grandfather keep a preserved human hand for so long? And why would he keep it all a secret from his family? Mark and Maria knew they had to do some more digging if they ever wanted to know the truth.

While every thought imaginable stirred in their minds, Mark and Maria decided they had to get to the bottom of their discovery, once and for all. So they brought the box and the items inside to a professional for appraisal.

First, Tampa Bay History Center curator Rodney Kite-Powell took a look at the coins. “They’re a little thin to be Spanish Coins or old coins in general. Generally, older coins were thicker,” Rodney explained.

The coins weren’t as old as they’d anticipated, but that didn’t make them any less exciting. Next, Rodney wanted to give the crude map of Tampa a close examination. After a while, he determined it dated back to either the 1920s or 1930s.

The chances of any of the items having belonged to José Gaspar were starting to dwindle. “It’s fascinating, but I just don’t know what to make of it aside from the fact that it’s probably not José Gaspar’s hand, these probably aren’t Spanish coins,” Rodney explained.

Of course, the hand might not have belonged to José Gaspar, but that didn’t do anything to take away from its mystery. Mark and Maria still had no idea of its origins—or if it was all even real to begin with.

“I think it still looks real and the weirdest thing is the hand,” Mark mentioned, while taking a moment to remember all the tall tales his grandfather had told him and his sister when they were children. Was he lying or not?

“Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone, or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River,” Mark recalled. “There’s really no way to know.”

Mark and Maria decided they’d hold onto the mysterious box and its mysterious contents as a relic of their late grandfather and their family history. Who knows? Maybe one day they’ll learn the whole truth!

While the coins, map, and hand might not have given Mark and Maria the answers they were looking for, there’s no denying that simply sifting through their grandfather’s items gave them a glimpse into his past. And what a wild past it was!

Can you imagine finding out that this was real all along? If only they had believed their grandfather when he was still around!

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