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

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Stories of buried treasure and ancient shipwrecks have captivated for centuries, from pirate stories to Hollywood blockbusters. For a team of explorers, however, legend became reality when they uncovered a treasure trove of artifacts from a 350-year-old sunken Spanish galleon, including priceless coins, gems and jewelry. once owned by sea knights. The Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (or Our Lady of Wonders) sank in 1656 after colliding with another ship in her fleet and crashing into a coral reef off the Bahamas. The ship was carrying treasure, part of which was reserved as a royal tax for King Philip IV, from Cuba to Seville, Spain. The 891-ton ship carried more cargo than usual, as it had also been tasked with carrying treasure salvaged from another ship that had sunk two years earlier. There have already been several successful attempts to salvage the ship’s cargo, with nearly 3.5 million items recovered. between the 1650s and the 1990s, according to shipwreck specialist Allen Exploration, who led a two-year expedition from 2020. But the latest finds, which will be on display this month at the new Bahamas Maritime Museum, offer a new insight into life aboard the ship . Working with local divers, archaeologists and other experts, the researchers are also “reconstructing the mystery of how the ship sank and sank”, said project marine archaeologist James Sinclair in a press release. Using remote sensing technology, such as sonar and magnetometers, Allen Exploration tracked “a long, winding trail of debris of finds” scattered across an eight-mile stretch of ocean floor, founder Carl Allen added in a statement. Among the finds was a 1.76 meter long gold filigree chain and several jeweled 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 could represent the 12 apostles, alongside the cross of Saint James. Three other knightly pendants were also discovered, including one in the shape of a golden scallop shell. in these harsh waters, and how we managed to find them, is the miracle of the Maravillas.”Related video: Discovery of the world’s deepest shipwreck including Chinese porcelain pots and olives, plus a handful Some of the galleon’s valuable contents may also have been smuggled in an attempt to “illegally grease the palms of Spanish merchants and officials,” Allen said. will be permanently housed at the Bahamas Maritime Museum, which opens Aug. 8 in the Caribbean nation’s second-largest city, Freeport.And Sinclair thinks there may still be more discoveries to be made there.” , he said.

Stories of buried treasure and ancient shipwrecks have captivated for centuries, from pirate stories to Hollywood blockbusters. For a team of explorers, however, legend became reality when they uncovered a treasure trove of artifacts from a 350-year-old sunken Spanish galleon – including priceless coins, gems and jewelry once owned by sea knights.

The Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (or Our Lady of Wonders) sank in 1656 after colliding with another ship in her fleet and crashing into a coral reef off the Bahamas. The ship was carrying treasure, part of which was reserved as a royal tax for King Philip IV, from Cuba to Seville, Spain. The 891-ton vessel carried more cargo than usual, as it had also been tasked with carrying treasure salvaged from another ship that had sunk two years earlier.

There have already been several successful attempts to salvage the ship’s cargo, with nearly 3.5 million items recovered between the 1650s and the 1990s, according to shipwreck specialist Allen Exploration, who led a two-day expedition years from 2020.

But the latest findings, presented this month at the new Bahamas Maritime Museum, offer a new insight into life on board the ship. Working with local divers, archaeologists and other experts, the researchers are also “reconstructing the mystery of how the ship sank and sank”, said project marine archaeologist James Sinclair in a press release.

Using remote sensing technology, such as sonar and magnetometers, Allen Exploration tracked “a long, winding trail of debris” scattered across an eight-mile stretch of ocean floor, founder Carl Allen added in a statement.

Among the finds were a 1.76 meter long gold filigree chain and several jeweled 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 could represent the 12 apostles, alongside the cross of Saint James. Three other knightly pendants were also discovered, including one in the shape of a golden scallop shell.

“As we lifted the oval emerald and gold pendant, my breath caught in my throat,” Allen said, adding, “How did these tiny pendants survive in those harsh waters and how did we manage to find them , this is the miracle of the Maravillas.”

Related video: Discovery of the deepest shipwreck in the world

Other artifacts recovered shed light on daily life on the Maravillas, who sailed during the “Spanish Golden Age,” including porcelain and Chinese olive pots, and a silver sword hilt. Some of the galleon’s valuable contents may also have been smuggled in an attempt to “illegally grease the palms of Spanish merchants and officials”, Allen said.

Items discovered by Allen’s team will be permanently stored at the Bahamas Maritime Museumwhich opens August 8 in the Caribbean’s second-largest city, Freeport.

And Sinclair believes there may still be more discoveries to be made.

“The ship may have been wiped out by past salvages and hurricanes… But we’re confident there are more stories out there,” he said.

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