Researchers from Allen Exploration (AllenX) have discovered a three-mile trail of wreckage from a sunken 17th-century Spanish galleon known as the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (meaning "Our Lady of Miracles") in the waters of the Bahamas.
Experts believed the galleon had been "rescued into oblivion," but four years of underwater archaeology by AllenX carefully mapped the widely scattered wreckage of the 891-ton galleon. The team identified various parts of the ship as well as thousands of artifacts, including silver bars, emeralds, and amethysts.
According to Newsweek, the Maravilla sank on January 4, 1656, in the northern Bahamas, on its way home to Cadiz, in southwestern Spain, with about 650 people on board, most of them dead. The galleon was rammed by its flagship and collided with a reef, sustaining significant damage. At the time, it was loaded with treasure, including a large amount of contraband and items salvaged from another galleon lost off the coast of Ecuador two years ago.
In the years after the galleon sank, it was heavily torn apart by Spanish salvors and then by various expeditions led by crews from European countries and the Americas. Between 1656 and 1683, the wreck was searched for treasure at least 21 times, during which about 5 million pesos worth of silver bars, coins and worked silver were found.
Then, between 1972 and 1991, modern salvage teams rediscovered the wreck and found an estimated 30 tons of gold bars, coins, silver nuggets, jewelry, emeralds, iron anchors and cannons, among other things.
"This discovery is one of the most important in the field of underwater archaeology in recent decades. It sheds light on how one of the richest treasure ships in history sank and gives us a unique glimpse into life in the 17th century Spanish Empire," said Carl Allen, founder of Allen Exploration.
As a reminder, cone-shaped tombs with human remains dating back more than 3,000 years were found in Mexico.
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