SCI Hoard of priceless treasures recovered from 350-year-old Spanish shipwreck

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Hoard of priceless treasures recovered from 350-year-old Spanish shipwreck - CNN Style

Hoard of priceless treasures recovered from 350-year-old Spanish shipwreck

Published 3rd August 2022

High-status personal belongings -- gold jewellery, chain, pendants -- and coins from the Maravillas. © Brendan Chavez -  (Courtesy The Bahamas Maritime Museum)



Credit: Courtesy The Bahamas Maritime Museum



Hoard of priceless treasures recovered from 350-year-old Spanish shipwreck


Written by Megan C. Hills, CNNStories of buried treasure and ancient shipwrecks have captivated for centuries, from pirate tales to Hollywood blockbusters. For one team of explorers, however, legend became reality when they uncovered a trove of artifacts from a 350-year-old sunken Spanish galleon -- including coins, gemstones and priceless jewels once belonging to seafaring knights.The Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (or Our Lady of Wonders) sank in 1656 after it collided with another boat from its fleet and crashed into a coral reef off the Bahamas. The vessel was carrying a haul of treasure, some of which was reserved as royal tax for King Philip IV, from Cuba to Seville, Spain. The 891-ton ship contained more cargo than usual, as it had also been tasked with transporting treasure retrieved from another ship that had sunk two years earlier.
An artistic reconstruction of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, built in 1647.



An artistic reconstruction of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, built in 1647. Credit: Courtesy The Bahamas Maritime Museum
There have already been several successful attempts to retrieve the ship's cargo, with almost 3.5 million items recovered between 1650s and 1990s, according to shipwreck specialist Allen Exploration, which carried out a two-year expedition from 2020.

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But the latest discoveries, which are going on display this month at the new Bahamas Maritime Museum, offer fresh insight into life aboard the vessel. Working with local divers, archaeologists and other experts, the researchers are also in the process of "reconstructing the mystery of how the ship was wrecked and fell apart," project marine archaeologist James Sinclair said in a press release.

Using remote-sensing technology, such as sonar and magnetometers, Allen Exploration tracked "a long and winding debris trail of finds" scattered over a 13-kilometer stretch of ocean floor, founder Carl Allen added in a statement.
A glass wine bottle, one of many items that shine a light on life aboard the ship.



A glass wine bottle, one of many items that shine a light on life aboard the ship. Credit: Courtesy The Bahamas Maritime Museum

Among the discoveries was a 1.76-meter-long gold filigree chain and several bejeweled pendants that once belonged to knights of the Order of Santiago, a centuries-old religious and military order. One of the gold pendants features a large oval Colombian emerald and a dozen smaller emeralds, which experts believe may represent the 12 apostles, alongside the Cross of St. James. Three other knightly pendants were also discovered, including one shaped to look like a golden scallop shell.

Rare emeralds found in 400-year-old shipwreck to fetch millions



Rare emeralds found in 400-year-old shipwreck to fetch millions

"When we brought up the oval emerald and gold pendant, my breath caught in my throat," Allen said, adding: "How these tiny pendants survived in these harsh waters, and how we managed to find them, is the miracle of the Maravillas."

Other recovered artifacts shine a light on daily life on the Maravillas, which sailed during the "Spainish Golden Age," including Chinese porcelain and olive jars, as well as a silver sword handle. Some of the galleon's valuable contents may also have been contraband for the purpose of "illegally greasing the palms of Spanish merchants and officials," Allen said.
 

Squib

Veteran Member
These days, I'd look for Central America to claim ownership. Spain "stole" all of that from them originally, after all.
No, what Capt Senile said!

Didn’t Spain already claim treasures found in these ancient sunken ships…all against the claims of South American countries…and the courts sided with Spain!

IIRC, a court ruled Spain could take the treasure that a private salvage company had researched, recovered and was holding…a C-130 and some Spanish military showed up and took the treasure…again, that’s IIRC…

BTW, the treasure was in the US when Spain came and took possession of it!
 

EYW

Veteran Member
Look up Mel Fischer for some fascinating treasure hunting tales ... and some of the legal ramifications you can run into.
I have a coin from Mel Fishers collection.
My MIL was a friend and an employee of Mel and Deo Fisher for many years. She received fairly large divisions in several years. My daughter worked there in the gift shop area part time on the weekends when she was in high school and got a small division. We sold all of ours but kept the emeralds -- my birthstone. A good time was had by all.

Remember the line in A Pirate Looks at 40? "I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast." A lot of that went on. The smart people invested or bought property/houses/businesses in Key West. A lot of people just kept on partying.

That was probably the first huge shipwreck find in America and nobody knew what to do. It could have been handled differently and had a better outcome for many of the investors and employees.

Oh well, that was then, this is now. RIP, Mel and Deo. Mel was one of those rare people who got to see his outrageous dream come true.
 

Ravekid

Veteran Member
Remember the line in A Pirate Looks at 40? "I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast." A lot of that went on. The smart people invested or bought property/houses/businesses in Key West. A lot of people just kept on partying.
I first read about the Atocha and Mel Fisher during about twenty years ago. On a spring break trip to the Clearwater area I recall a shop at John’s Pass selling either legit or replica coins from the find. I thought that was pretty cool.

Years later I went to St. Augustine and the pirate museum had just moved there from Key West. The museum had a few artifacts from the ship on display.

Then earlier this year my wife and I decided to finally visit Key West and Miami for the first time. Visited the Mel Fisher museum. It is a definite must see if one visits the area. The entire story is amazing while also sad as he lost family while guarding the find.

We also took the boat out to Dry Tortugas. On the way back they pointed out a ship and said it was part of the Mel Fisher team. They are still out there trying to find more treasure.
 

Txkstew

Veteran Member
I dove on a galleon wreck 20 miles off Belize on the barrier reef in 1979. Our Hookah air compressor blew a gasket, and all we could do, was free dive with mask, snorkel, and fins. About 30 foot down. My buddy had bought an expensive underwater metal detector. It signaled everywhere I ran it. It was just a big pile of ballast rock, with cannons and an anchor. He first went there as a kid on his father's snapper boat. A local showed it to them. He said other adults on the trip were smashing intact clay jars. Dumb asses.

My buddy did recover some coins and other artifacts on other trips. While we were out there, a patrol boat came by, and made a big uturn and pulled a side us. A sleepy captain popped up from a hatch, and wanted to know who the hell us white guys were, and who's dugout that was. We told him, and he said he thought so. We found out later he checked our story out with the owner. Crazy shit I did as a 24 year old.

My buddy got snitched on a latter trip. He was arrested and the Judge told him he was to hire this guy, and go get his equipment, and van then leave the country, pay the guy's bus fare home, and never come back to Belize.
 

day late

money? whats that?
My first thought is, at the moment, the only ones who know what is coming up are the ones pulling it up. Anyone want to bet that there may have been an accounting error or two? Maybe bags, tied off, under the surface to be retrieved later?
 

day late

money? whats that?
Dhhhhooooo…
You mean hot dogs haven’t been sitting at the bottom of the ocean for hundreds of years????

Weird that…
I guess I missed that one….

Come on you have to admit they look a lot like hot dogs!!!!
I wouldn't want to try to cook it.
 
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