Researchers stunned by ‘perfect’ £300million shipwreck treasure

Researchers stunned by ‘perfect’ £300million shipwreck treasure

Researchers stunned by ‘perfect’ £300million shipwreck treasure

The Archaeologists discovery of various artifacts and treasure worth hundreds of millions of pounds aboard a 19th-century Spanish vessel.

The fortune of Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes which collapsed in a battle over Portugal’s Cape St Mary in 1804, was raised at the American court after a US salvage company took 594,000 gold and silver coins worth £308 million from the site in 2007.

“The finds are of inestimable scientific and historical value,” said Mr Ivan Negueruela, the director of Spain’s National Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

The vessel is thought to have been downed before Spain joined the Napoleonic Wars against Britain. When the 1802 Treaty of Amiens broke down, Britain declared war on France amid uneasy peace with Spain.

The vessel was downed in battle

In 2007 some of the cargo was retrieved by the Odyssey Marine Exploration company, which had it flown to Tampa, Florida. A court in 2012, however, forced the treasure hunters to return the haul to Spain.

The items found had been listed in the ship’s manifest, including cutlery inscribed with a passenger’s name.

An archaeological report said: “Mention should be made of the perfection with which the documentary sources coincide with archaeological evidence in this case.”

Elisa de Cabo, the Spanish Culture Ministry’s deputy director of national heritage said in 2012 the find was “invaluable”. She added: “How would you put a price on the Mona Lisa?”

The treasure was worth £300million

A similar find could be made this year as researchers from both Spain and Mexico hope to unearth a historic Spanish galleon that fell to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in October 1631.

The ship is called the Nuestra Senora del Juncal (Our Lady of Juncal), and sank to the depths while carrying gold, silver and jewels that could be worth billions today.

The vessel and its sailors were hit by vicious storms as they made their way to Spain, and even before the challenging weather, the crew was stripped of its commander due to illness.

With the ship slowly becoming flooded with water, and repair desperately needed, the Nuestra Senora del Juncal plugged away through two weeks of relentless storms.

To aid its travel, crew slashed the main mast and tossed cannons overboard to relieve the strain on the vessel, but even that was not enough as only 39 of the 300 survived the sinking by jumping into a small launch.

Coins rescued from the Frigate Mercedes

Along with the many men who fell to the floor of the Gulf, the valuable treasure also remains to this day. With the search for the treasure galleon on the horizon, the project will span two decades.

With Spain and Mexico agreeing to a memorandum of understanding over their shared underwater cultural heritage, it aims not only to locate and protect the Juncal but also to train a new generation of Latin American underwater archaeologists.

Dr Iván Negueruela, the director of Spain’s National Museum of Underwater Archaeology, has claimed the chances of locating and finding the ship are looking good.

He said: “Because the cargo was so valuable – it was carrying lots of ingots – the authorities had a detailed inventory.

“The survivors were also questioned in-depth and their statements help us to reconstruct what happened with quite a high degree of accuracy, so we have a fairly good idea of where the ship sank.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *