Over the course of three centuries, several “rescue” attempts have been made on a sunken Spanish galleon from the 17th century that went down in the Atlantic Ocean close to the Bahamas. However, they didn’t travel to all that trouble just to see a historic ship; they were more interested in the goods it was transporting. It had an immeasurably valuable secret stash.
Few believed that the remnants of the ship and her cargo, known as Nuestra Seora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of the Miraculous), would still be in a preserved form when another expedition set out to locate them. The findings, however, pleasantly surprised the researchers. They discovered fresh, astronomically expensive treasures in the Bahamas.
For example, a gold necklace with the cross of Santiago and a bezoar, prized in Europe for its therapeutic virtues, were discovered, suggesting that some of the valuables were meant for affluent aristocracy or the royal family. With its scalloped form, it is an easily recognizable sign for those making the journey to Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral in the Galician area of Spain. As such, the relic is classified with other discoveries related to the Sacred Order of Santiago. This military-religious organization was crucial to Spain’s maritime commerce and the safety of pilgrims.
The founder of Allen Exploration, Carl Allen, is overjoyed with the results of the mission. He told The Guardian, “When we brought out the oval pendant with the emerald and gold, it stole my breath away.” I’m more into commonplace objects than rare coins and jewels, yet the riches of Santiago unite the two for me. When I hold the pendant in my hand and consider where it came from, I can’t help but be intrigued by its rich history. Somehow these small appendages made it through the turbulent seas, and we found them. He then said, “This is a great miracle.”
Allen’s hope that the ship was only partially destroyed motivated him to go looking for the remains of it. So he assembled a search party to track down the ship’s missing stern, which had broken off and been presumed lost at sea. He intended to do scientific investigation on the ship’s remnants, unlike his predecessors who had merely sold the treasures they had discovered.
The galleon wreck has a troubled past. It was “explored” extensively by Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Bahamian, and American expeditions in the 17th and 18th centuries, and saved quickly by rescuers in the 1970s and ’80s and ’90s. Philanthropist Allen, who is interested in submerged artifacts, revealed that there was a theory that the ship’s remnants had been crushed.
The modern scientific methods used by his team allowed them to deduce the mechanisms by which storms caused the destruction of the Maravillas and their subsequent dispersal. He said, “Using today’s technology and scientific understanding, we are currently tracking a lengthy and twisting path of trash findings.
More over seventy kilometers from shore, on the western edge of the Little Bahama Bank, the ship went down. The freshly uncovered gems, however, were located along a debris path that stretched for more than thirteen kilometers.
The English marine archaeologist Sean Kingsley claims that the appearance of such amazing discovery beneath deep sand in the midst of nowhere makes them all the more significant. He told the Observer, “It’s a successful keyhole archaeological operation.”
The Bahamian government has granted Allen Exploration a scientific exploration license, and the company has promised to showcase its discoveries in a new museum on the island.
The expedition is also studying the state of the reefs, the seafloor geology, and the amount of plastic pollution in the water in order to better comprehend the relationship between archeology and marine ecosystems. The bright corals that divers recalled from the 1970s are gone,” Allen told The Guardian. Toxic waste from the ocean and many feet of quicksand ensured their demise. Tragic sadness overwhelms us. But nonetheless, there are treasures to be found on those dreary rocks.
Iron hull fasteners and rigging rings and pins were also recovered by the crew from the wreck. Personal things, such as a silver hilt for a soldier’s sword and a pearl ring, and evidence of the ship’s catering, such as olive canisters and Chinese and Mexican dishes, were also discovered.
Items salvaged from wrecks in Bahamian seas belong to the government and will be displayed at the Bahamian Maritime Museum in Freeport. This museum is made possible through Allen Exploration.
Located in a Madrid monastery since the 13th century is a statue of the “miraculous” Virgin Mary, from whom the Spanish galleon took her name. She left Havana, Cuba, bound for Spain with a cargo of contraband and a wealthy cargo rescued from a Spanish ship that had sunk off the coast of Ecuador.
As a result of a navigational blunder made when emerging from shallow water, she drowned after midnight on January 4, 1656. A total of 650 people were on board when she collided with the fleet’s flagship and smashed into a rock. Many of the human deaths might be traced back to shark attacks.