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“Nothing, except perhaps the landing of a flying saucer in one’s backyard, is quite so disruptive of everyday life as the discovery of sunken treasure.  There are very few people who can confirm this, but by a series of most unlikely events, I happen to be among them.” 
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, The Treasure of the Great Reef

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So begins Arthur C. Clarke: before 2001

- the documentary that Syfy Channel called:  "...eminently watchable and endearing, mainly because of the obvious nostalgic joy communicated by Clarke as narrator..."

Sir Arthur C. Clarke has written nearly 100 books.  He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his invention of the communications satellite and Oscar nominee for the motion picture, 2001: a space odyssey.  But few people know that long before 2001, Clarke was an avid SCUBA diver and wrote eight books, fiction and non-fiction, about underwater exploration.

Even fewer people know that in the early 1960s he was a part of one of the most unique sunken treasure discoveries in history – The Treasure of the Great Reef.

In 1962, Clarke was stricken with polio and spent the rest of his life living with the debilitating effects of post polio syndrome.

In 1963 he joined diving partner Mike Wilson as he and a small team of divers recovered thousands of silver rupees Wilson and two American consulate boys, Bob Kriegel and Mark Smith, had discovered on Great Basses Reef off the southern tip of Sri Lanka.  Most of the coins were still in the shape of the bags that had once carried them; clumps weighing 26 to 30 pounds, with nearly 1,000 coins in each.

The water gave Clarke the freedom that he had lost on land due to the polio.  And the experience of recovering sunken treasure from the ocean floor fired his pen.

In 1964 and '65 he wrote the books Treasure of the Great Reef and Indian Ocean Treasure recounting the adventure of recovering the sunken treasure.  But he never donned another set of SCUBA tanks.

The memory of the glittering silver rupees recovered from Great Basses Reef slowly faded into history.

And as the years passed, Clarke found himself increasingly bound to walking aides and wheelchairs.

Then in 1992, renowned treasure hunter Capt. Carl Fismer acquired a hoard of silver rupees from retired Smithsonian curator Mendel Peterson.  Fismer then teamed up with adventure photo-journalist and video producer Robert Lewis Knecht and together they traveled to Sri Lanka to visit Clarke and hear the story of the Treasure of the Great Reef first hand.

Clarke was ecstatic to recount the adventure on video.  But nothing had prepared Fismer or Knecht for the surprise they were about to get.

In 1991, Knecht had produced the documentary Where Wheelchairs Are Not Allowed, which ran on PBS, about how members of the Houston Disabled SCUBA Divers Association had overcome tremendous odds to break the bonds of their wheelchairs and discover the freedom of SCUBA diving.  Clarke had seen the program and had been so inspired by it that he joined Fismer and Knecht on a dive off Colombo, Sri Lanka, to over 100 feet.

Later, back on board the boat, he excitedly recounted the dive and, perhaps sensing his mortality, told the camera: "If I never do another dive again, this will be a good way to go out."

That was his last dive... 

Arthur C. Clarke: before 2001 recounts the exciting discovery of the Treasure of the Great Reef, now known as The Taj Mahal Sunken Treasure, with never before seen photos and footage of the treasure recovery, and interviews with the treasure discoverers, Mark Smith and Bob Kriegel.  Robert Hoge, curator of the American Numismatic Association, makes a special appearance discussing the origins and rarity of the silver rupees.  And, of course, Capt. Fismer accompanies Clarke on a magical dive off Sri Lanka.

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Before2001

Arthur C. Clarke: before 2001 features the only video footage of Clarke SCUBA diving.

The 15th Anniversary Special Edition, featuring over an hour of never before seen footage is now available.

In Memoriam Sir Arthur C. Clarke 1917 - 2008
A true treasure to the world....

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