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Archaeology & History

Exploration of 'holy grail of shipwrecks' worth $20 billion begins

By T.K. Randall
May 27, 2024 · Comment icon 13 comments
The San Jose goes down during the battle of Cartagena.
The San Jose was sunk by the British in 1708. Image Credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Samuel Scott
The wreck of the San Jose, a 300-year-old Spanish galleon, is thought to be filled with gold and jewels.
Discovered in 2015 off the coast of Colombia, the 62-gun galleon San Jose went down on June 8, 1708 along with 600 members of its crew while engaged in a battle with the British during the War of Spanish Succession.

The wreck of the San Jose was a particularly significant find because it was thought to be carrying a treasure trove of gold and jewels worth around $20 billion in today's money.

Unsurprisingly, this has caused quite a lot of disagreement between the Colombian government, the Spanish government and various other third parties over who actually owns the gold.

Despite this, Colombia has since forged ahead with efforts to explore the wreck and to create a detailed map of both the sea floor around it and the treasure that it contains.

According to the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History, this will involve the use of remote sensors as well as remote-operated underwater drones.
To aid in the effort, the whole site has also been declared a protected archaeological area.

While the vessel is certainly of interest to historians, there is little doubt that the $20 billion worth of treasure at the site is the primary driving force behind its expedited exploration.

Previous reports suggested that the Colombian government wants to raise the vessel from the ocean floor before President Gustavo Petro ends his current term in office in 2026.

Whether the country will be able to keep all of the riches inside, however, remains to be seen.

Source: BBC News | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hankenhunter 7 months ago
A legal quagmire of epic proportions. This will be an even bigger fight than the Atocha was.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Still Waters 7 months ago
Comment icon #6 Posted by Still Waters 17 days ago
Latest: The Colombian government has started exploring a sunk 18th Century Spanish galleon dubbed the “holy grail of shipwrecks”. The South American nation has also declared a protected archaeological area around the San José galleon - which was sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1708 in the Caribbean Sea. The ship, whose ownership remains contested, was carrying one of the largest hauls of valuables ever lost at sea when it was attacked just outside of the Colombian city of Cartagena. It is estimated to be laden with as much as £16bn ($20bn) in treasure. [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Bed of chaos 16 days ago
I just watched Atocha: Quest for Treasure (YouTube). It's very fascinating. 10yr search, cost millions, multiple deaths, including Fishers son. Pretty wild. Got any good book recommendations about this?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hankenhunter 16 days ago
Sorry, no. I've watched a couple of documentaries on it. I'll see if I can find them. Ha, found the mother load. You Tube Atocha documentaries has it all.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Bed of chaos 16 days ago
All good, I'll look around.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Hankenhunter 16 days ago
You Tube has a great library on the Atocha. Just found it. Along with a ton of great photos of the treasure.?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Bed of chaos 16 days ago
Yep. After documentary I watched "Atocha Treasure" video from museum. The emerald rings and cross look magnificent.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Hankenhunter 16 days ago
Yeah, my jaw dropped when I saw what they retrieved. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by Bed of chaos 16 days ago
I'm browsing book titles. First one that came up "Fatal Treasure: Greed and Death, Emeralds and Gold". 

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