Sunken Jewels, buried treasure unearthed in the Bahamas from a legendary 17th-century Spanish shipwreck
Talk about a Find.
A treasure trove of jewels, medallions and historical artifacts has been unearthed The Bahamas dating back to the legendary 17th-century shipwreck of Maravillas – and the public is about to see it.
Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Miracles), a two-decker Spanish galleonsank 4 January 1656 off Little Bahama Bank in northern Bahamas on a voyage from Cuba to Seville.
It had transported numerous treasures from both royal taxes and private collections.
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The 891-ton ship went down after colliding with its fleet flagship.
30 minutes later it hit a reef – and eventually sank.
The remains of the ship were scattered several miles across the ocean with no significant part of the ship remaining.
For more than 360 years, archaeologists and adventurers have tried to locate the debris lost in the rubble.
And while much of the treasure – an estimated 3.5 million of eight pieces – was recovered between 1656 and the early 1990s, modern technology such as high-resolution magnetometers, improved GPS and metal detection has enabled Allen Exploration to find surface riches beyond their own imagination.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen said that he and his team began recovering valuable artifacts near Walker’s Cay in July 2020.
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High-tech tools and official permission given them by the Bahamian government to search what is known as the wreck hotspot in the north of the Bahamas have led to “rather startling” discoveries, the entrepreneur said.
“We recovered thousands of artifacts,” he said.
An Allen exploration fleet is shown in Bahamas waters. (Brendan Chavez/Allen Exploration)
“Guns, anchors, emeralds and amethysts… We have about 3,000 silver coins and 25 gold coins,” he said.
The water in the area only goes up to 50 feet deep, while the sand can bury treasure up to 20 feet deep, he revealed.
But that didn’t stop Allen from proving his doubters wrong and discovering treasures that took his breath away.
Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen, pictured with his wife Gigi, holds up an amethyst found at a debris site in the Bahamas. (Matthew Rissell/Allen Exploration)
“When I pulled up the first valuable item, I lost my breath,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”
“I’ve thought about it my whole life.”
The intriguing finds also include Spanish olive jars, Chinese porcelain and iron rigging, according to an AllenX press release.
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The team also discovered a silver sword hilt that belonged to soldier Don Martin de Aranda y Gusmán; The item helped teams identify these treasures as belonging to the sunken Maravillas.
Four pendants worn by members of the Order of Saint Santiago, a religious group of knights involved in Spanish maritime trade, were also found.
A gold pendant with pearl decorations. (Nathaniel Harrington/Allen Exploration)
AllenX previously considered the jewels of the Order of Santiago to be the “star” finds.
A golden pendant with the cross of St. James was designed in the shape of a scallop shell.
It is enhanced by what appears to be an Indian bezoar stone – a famous European stone known for its healing properties.
A gold pendant appears to be holding an Indian bezoar stone. (Nathaniel Harrington/Allen Exploration)
Another gold pendant bears the same cross overlaid on a large, oval Colombian emerald.
Three gold chains were found, including an 887-gram gold filigree chain made up of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs, most likely made in the Philippines, the group said.
AllenX pointed out that no exact replicas of the chain exist in museum collections from other excavations or from Spanish portraiture.
Composed of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs, this 887 gram gold filigree chain was most likely made in the Philippines. (Nathaniel Harrington/Allen Exploration)
Allen Exploration archaeologist Jim Sinclair told Fox News Digital that these artifacts show how people lived in the colonial era and in the New World.
A 40-year-old archaeologist and original discoverer of iconic wrecks like the Titanic, Sinclair said that a salvage like the Maravillas reflects an “amazing leap” in technology.
The archaeologist also thought artifact analysis was a “really good development” for discerning human behavior and history.
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Gems and pottery recovered from a wreck site in the Bahamas. (Brendan Chavez/Allen Exploration)
Although the value of these artifacts most likely totals millions of dollars, the items are priceless, said Bill Springer, spokesman for Allen Exploration.
None of Allen Exploration’s discoveries will be auctioned or offered for sale.
Instead, the finds will become part of an exhibit at Allen Exploration’s Bahamas Maritime Museum, located in the Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport.
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The museum is scheduled to open on Saturday August 6, 2022.
It will also feature exhibits related to maritime history in the Bahamas, as well as the transatlantic slave trade and the Lucaya people.
Only 45 survivors
The Maravillas exhibition also tells the story of the ship’s sinking.
Of the nearly 650 passengers aboard the ship, only 45 survived.
No human remains have been found.
Divers are shown digging the seabed for buried treasure – the site of a shipwreck in the Bahamas. (Chad Bagwell/Allen Exploration)
The shipwreck was a “huge blow,” Allen explained, as Spain was struggling with financial problems at the time and the boat was stuffed with valuables.
It was one of the largest treasure ships to ever leave India – which is why Allen said he expects more artifacts to be discovered.
The “mother vein” has yet to be discovered, he pointed out; and if so, he said the loot would be “extremely valuable”.
“The manifest that’s usually on those old ships a lot – it was only about half of what was on the ship because there was so much contraband,” he said.
“So that’s the exciting part.”
Divers explore a wreck site in the Bahamas. (Brendan Chavez/Allen Exploration)
In addition to opening the museum, Allen is furthering his passion for discovery and education by developing underwater archeology programs for children in the Bahamas.
“The big problem is [the debris] won’t stay there forever,” he said.
“And it’s a playground of shipwreck.”
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“So I created a way for other people to do that — and I welcome it.”
Allen Exploration’s Bahamas Maritime Museum in Freeport, Grand Bahama will open on August 6, 2022. For more information, visit the museum’s website at www.bahamasmaritimemuseum.com.
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