August 10, 2022

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Sunken jewels, buried treasure discovered in the Bahamas from a 17th century Spanish shipwreck

Sunken jewels, buried treasure discovered in the Bahamas from a 17th century Spanish shipwreck

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A treasure trove of gems, medals and historical artifacts has been discovered Bahamas It dates back to the legendary 17th century Maravillas shipwreck – and the public is about to catch a glimpse of it.

Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders), two storeys Spanish Galleonsank on January 4, 1656, off the Little Bank of the Bahamas in the northern Bahamas on a flight to Seville from Cuba.

It held many treasures from royal taxes and private property.

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The ship, weighing 891 tons, collapsed after colliding with its captain.

It hit a reef 30 minutes later – and eventually sank.

Illustration of the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas, which sank in 1656.
(Explore Allen)

The remains of the ship were scattered for several miles across the ocean, with not much of the ship left behind.

For more than 360 years, archaeologists and adventurers have tried to locate the lost wreckage in the wreck.

And while much of the treasure—an estimated 3.5 million pieces, out of eight—was salvaged between 1656 and the early 1990s, modern technology such as high-precision magnetometers, improved GPS and mineral detection have allowed Allen Exploration to bring it to riches beyond imagination.

An explorer holds a gold coin found in the Bahamas where the Allen's exploration boat can be seen from afar.

An explorer holds a gold coin found in the Bahamas where the Allen’s exploration boat can be seen from afar.
(Brendan Chavez/Exploring Allen)

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen said he and his team began excavating the precious artifact in July 2020 near Walker Cay.

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The businessman said that the high-tech tools, as well as the official permission given to them by the Bahamian government to search in the northern Bahamas – known as a debris hot spot – have made “quite amazing” discoveries.

“We have recovered thousands of artifacts,” he said.

The Allen Exploration fleet appears in the waters of the Bahamas.

The Allen Exploration fleet appears in the waters of the Bahamas.
(Brendan Chavez/Exploring Allen)

“Cannons, anchors, emeralds, amethysts…we have about 3,000 silver coins and 25 gold coins,” he said.

He revealed that the water in the area is only 50 feet deep, while the sand can bury treasures up to 20 feet deep.

However, that didn’t stop Allen from proving his skeptics wrong and discovering treasures that took his breath away.

Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen appears with his wife, Gigi, carrying an amethyst that was found at a wreck site in the Bahamas.

Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen appears with his wife, Gigi, carrying an amethyst that was found at a wreck site in the Bahamas.
(Matthew Rissel/Allen Exploration)

“When I held my first precious piece,” he said, “I lost my breath.” I couldn’t breathe.

“I’ve been thinking about this my whole life.”

The remarkable finds also include Spanish olive pots, Chinese porcelain and forged iron, according to a press release from AllenX.

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The team also discovered a silver sword handle of soldier Don Martin de Aranda y Gusman; The item helped the teams identify these treasures as belonging to the sunken Maravillas.

A gold pendant with a Santiago cross is designed in the shape of a scallop shell.

Four necklaces were also found that were worn by members of the Santiago Sacred Congregation, a religious band of knights active in the Spanish maritime trade.

AllenX considered the order of the Santiago Jewels to be the “star” discovery so far.

A gold pendant with a Santiago cross is designed in the shape of a scallop shell.

It has been enhanced with what appears to be an Indian bezoar stone – a famous European stone known for its healing properties.

It appears that the gold necklace bears the Indian bezoar stone.

It appears that the gold necklace bears the Indian bezoar stone.
(Nathaniel Harrington/Exploring Allen)

Another gold necklace bearing the same cross that covers a large oval-shaped Colombian emerald.

The group said that three gold chains were recovered, including a gold filigree chain weighing 887 grams consisting of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobe rosettes, most likely made in the Philippines.

A gold pendant with a Santiago cross is designed in the shape of a scallop shell.

AllenX noted that there are no series replicas from other fossils in the museum’s collections or as shown in Spanish portraiture.

This 887-gram gold chain of 80 circular links decorated with four-lobed rosettes was most likely made in the Philippines.

This 887-gram gold chain of 80 circular links decorated with four-lobed rosettes was most likely made in the Philippines.
(Nathaniel Harrington/Exploring Allen)

Allen Exploration archaeologist Jim Sinclair told Fox News Digital that these artifacts reveal how people lived in the colonial period and in the New World.

As an archaeologist for 40 years, and as the original explorer of iconic wrecks like the Titanic, Sinclair said recovering like the Maravillas reflected an “amazing leap” in technology.

The archaeologist also considered the analysis of the artifacts a “really good development” in terms of discovering human behavior and history.

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Although the value of these artifacts likely add up to millions of dollars, the items are priceless, said Bill Springer, a spokesperson for Allen Exploration.

None of the Allen Exploration results will be offered for auction or sale.

Instead, the finds will become part of an exhibit at the Bahamas Maritime Museum at Allen Exploration, located on the Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport.

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The museum is scheduled to open on Saturday, August 6, 2022.

It will reveal other exhibits on the maritime history of the Bahamas, as well as the transatlantic slave trade and the Lucian people.

Only 45 survived

The Maravillas Gallery also presents the story of the ship’s demise.

Of the approximately 650 passengers on board the ship, only 45 are known to have survived.

No human remains were found.

Divers are shown digging for treasure buried at the bottom of the sea - the site of a shipwreck in the Bahamas.

Divers are shown digging for treasure buried at the bottom of the sea – the site of a shipwreck in the Bahamas.
(Chad Bagwell/Allen Exploration)

Allen explained that the shipwreck was a “huge blow”, as Spain at the time was struggling financially and the boat was full of valuables.

It was one of the largest treasure ships ever to leave the Indies – which is why Allen said he expects to discover more artifacts.

The “mother node” has not yet been discovered.

He noted that the “mother’s buttonhole” had yet to be discovered; And when that is done, he said the draw will be “very valuable”.

“The manifest is usually on these old ships, a lot of the time – it was only about half of what was on the ship because there was a lot of contraband,” he said.

“So, that’s what’s exciting.”

Divers explore a wreck site in the Bahamas.

Divers explore a wreck site in the Bahamas.
(Brendan Chavez/Exploring Allen)

Besides launching the museum, Allen is working to advance his passion for discovery and education by developing underwater archeology programs for Bahamian children.

“The big problem is [the debris] It won’t stay there forever.”

“It is a playground for shipwrecks.”

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“So, I’ve created a path for other people to do that — and I welcome it.”

The Bahamas Maritime Museum opened at Allen Exploration in Freeport, Grand Bahama, on August 6, 2022.