They made the discovery while trying to preserve what’s left of the ship and its cargo. The wreckage sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 43 miles off the coast of the Bahamas.
It Sunk Because of a Navigational Error
Known as Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, which translates to Our Lady of Wonders, this 891-ton galleon was transporting a cargo of silver between Colombia and Spain when a navigational error caused it to collide with another Spanish vessel.
The accident caused the ship to run aground on a coral reef. Of the 650 people onboard, only 50 survived the crash. According to the international team of underwater archaeologists, the wreckage is spread across eight miles on the ocean floor, which only shows the immense force of the impact.
The Ship’s Treasure Has Been Ransacked for Centuries
The Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas has always been considered by historians as one of the great treasure-laden Spanish galleons. This has made its remnants a target for looters throughout the years.
According to the Bahamas Maritime Museum, a vast majority of the ship’s cargo has been ransacked between 1656 and the early 1990s. Scholars believe that the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas was carrying a cargo of approximately 3.5 million items during its ill-fated voyage. This means that the recently discovered treasure trove is only a small portion of what could’ve been found if looters didn’t know the exact location of the wreckage.
While a lot of precious artifacts and data have been lost over the centuries, the discovered treasure will surely help historians learn more about the Caribbean’s maritime history. All the recovered items will become part of the Bahamas Maritime Museum’s collection, which opened its doors in Freeport on August 8.