17th century shipwreck gives up treasure of gold and jewels

  • Treasures have been found in the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas shipwreck in the Bahamas.
  • The treasure included silver bars, a five-foot gold chain, emeralds, and pearls.
  • The Bahamas Maritime Museum opens to display the finds.

A wealth of treasure has been discovered in the shipwreck of the 17th-century Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Miracles) in the Bahamas.

The glittering finds include solid silver bars, a 5-foot, 9-inch-long gold chain, intact pottery, a gold and emerald pendant, a pearl ring, two glass wine bottles, and a silver sword hilt belonging to soldier Don Martin de Aranda y Gusman.

The finds are about to be put on display at the new Bahamas Maritime Museum, established by the government of the Bahamas, and Carl Allen, entrepreneur, explorer, philanthropist and the founder of Allen Exploration, whose team discovered the finds.

ADVERTISEMENT

A 5-foot, 9-inch long gold chain found in the shipwreck of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.

A 5-foot, 9-inch long gold chain found in the shipwreck of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.

Nathaniel Harrington


“When we mentioned the oval pendant of emerald and gold, my breath caught in my throat. How these tiny pendants survived in these harsh waters, and how we managed to find them, is the marvel of the Maravillas,” said Allen. sent to Insider in a press release.

Allen Explorations discovered the treasures spread over an eight-mile stretch of the ocean floor.

Explorers dive into the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas

Explorers dive into the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas

Chad Bagwell


In the statement, Allen spoke of the shipwreck’s “heavy history”, saying it was “heavily salvaged by Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Bahamian and American expeditions in the 17th and 18th centuries, and overrun by salvage companies in the 1970s.” … to the early 1990s. Some say the remains were ground to dust.”

He also added that “the seabed is bare”, that “the colorful coral that divers remembered from the 1970s has disappeared, poisoned by ocean acidification and choked by meters of shifting sand. It is painfully sad. Lying on that dead gray reefs, however, are sparkling finds.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“The ship may have been destroyed by previous salvages and hurricanes, but we’re confident there are more stories,” said marine archaeologist James Sinclair of the project.

An emerald pendant found in the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas

An emerald pendant found in the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas

Nathaniel Harrington


The new Maritime Museum of the Bahamas will open on August 8.

“For a nation built on the ocean, it’s amazing how little is understood about the Bahamas’ maritime connections,” said Dr. Michael Pateman, director of the Bahamas Maritime Museum in the press release.

“For example, few know that the indigenous Lucayan peoples settled here 1,300 years ago. Or that the entire population, up to 50,000 people, was displaced by Spanish cannons, forced to dive for pearls off the coast of Venezuela, and in less than three decades. There was a dazzling Old World culture in the Bahamas. The Lucayans, slave trade, pirates and the Maravillas are core stories that we share in the museum.’

Our Lady of Miracles

Our Lady of Miracles

Allen Exploration


About the ship

According to the Maritime Museum of the Bahamas, the 17th-century Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas was a two-deck Spanish galleon that sank on a voyage from the Americas to Spain carrying treasure, both as a royal tax and private property.

The ship sank off the Little Bahama Bank on January 4, 1656 after a navigational error. Of the 650 on board, only 45 survived.

The wreckage was moved soon after the ship sank, and for centuries people have tried their luck to find some of the sunken riches.

Explorer Robert Marx rediscovered the remains in 1972 and saved some of what was left. Further remains were salvaged by Herbert Humphreys between 1986 and the early 1990s