An ancient gold cup, which was once acquired by a rag and bone man, that is expected to fetch several hundred thousand pounds at auction. Photograph: PA
If scientific tests and expert opinion are correct, his grandfather's gift must represent the best scrap metal find ever. The mystery object may be genuine lost treasure, a unique piece beaten out of a single sheet of gold in the Middle East, somewhere in the vast Achaemenid empire which spread from Persia to become the largest empire of the ancient world, until overthrown by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. The skill of the Achaemenid metal workers, who made exquisite objects in sheet gold and silver, was renowned."