Exquisite treasure hoard of gold and jewels from a 17th century Spanish galleon shipwreck discovered in Bahamas




  • In Science
  • 2022-08-06 12:49:22Z
  • By Business Insider
Artefacts found on the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas
Artefacts found on the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas  
  • Treasures have been found in the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas shipwreck in the Bahamas.

  • The trove included silver bars, a five-foot gold chain, emeralds, and pearls.

  • The Bahamas Maritime Museum is opening to display the finds.

A trove of treasure has been discovered in the shipwreck of the 17th century Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders) in the Bahamas.

The glittering finds include solid silver bars, a 5-foot, 9-inch long gold chain, in-tact pottery, a gold and emerald pendant, a pearl ring, two glass wine bottles, and a silver sword hilt of the soldier Don Martin de Aranda y Gusmán.

The finds are about to go on display at the new Bahamas Maritime Museum, created by the Government of the Bahamas, and Carl Allen, entrepreneur, explorer, philanthropist, and the founder of Allen Exploration, whose team uncovered the finds.

A 5-foot, 9-inch long gold chain found in the ship wreck of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.
A 5-foot, 9-inch long gold chain found in the ship wreck of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.  

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

Allen Explorations discovered the treasures sttrewn along an eight-mile stretch of the ocean floor.

Explorers delve into the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas
Explorers delve into the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas  

In the statement, Allen spoke of the "tough history" of the shipwreck, saying it had been "heavily salvaged by Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Bahamian and American expeditions in the 17th and 18th centuries, and blitzed by salvors from the 1970s to early 1990s. Some say the remains were ground to dust."

He also added that "The sea bottom is barren," that "the colorful coral that divers remembered from the 70s is gone, poisoned by ocean acidification and choked by meters of shifting sand. It's painfully sad. Still lying on those dead grey reefs, though, are sparkling finds."

"The ship may have been obliterated by past salvage and hurricanes. But we're convinced there are more stories out there," project marine archaeologist James Sinclair said.

An emerald pendant found in the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas
An emerald pendant found in the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas  

The new Bahamas Maritime Museum will open on August 8.

"For a nation built from the ocean, it's astonishing how little is understood about The Bahamas' maritime links," Dr. Michael Pateman, Director of The Bahamas Maritime Museum, said in the press release.

"Few know that the Indigenous Lucayan peoples, for instance, settled here 1,300 years ago. Or that the whole population, up to 50,000 people was forced out by Spanish guns, made to dive for pearls off Venezuela, and killed off in less than three decades. There was dazzling Old World culture in The Bahamas. The Lucayans, slave trade, pirates, and the Maravillas are core stories we're sharing in the museum."

Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas
Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas  

About the ship

According to the Bahamas Maritime Museum, the 17th century Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas was a two-deck Spanish galleon that sank on a voyage from the Americas to Spain carrying treasures, both as royal tax and private property.

The ship sank off the Little Bahama Bank on January 4, 1656, after a navigational error. Of the 650 on board, only 45 survived.

The wreck was quickly relocated after the ship sank, and for centuries people have tried their luck to find some of the sunken riches.

Explorer Robert Marx rediscovered the remains in 1972, and salvaged some of what was left. Further remains were salvaged by Herbert Humphreys between 1986 and the early 1990s

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