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article image400-year-old treasure found at shipwreck site in Gulf of Mexico

By Leigh Goessl     Apr 7, 2013 in World
Tampa - A 400-year-old treasure found off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico has been recovered. The Spanish vessel was on its way back east when it succumbed to a hurricane.
A literal boatload of treasure is currently going on display in Tampa, Fla. After years of work, this treasure, which was originally on a Spanish ship that sank in a hurricane almost 400 years ago, has now been brought to the surface by Odyssey Marine Exploration. The company is based in Tampa.
The site, called the "Tortugas" excavation, was first discovered back in 1965 when a shrimp trawler, Trade Winds, snagged portions of the ship and its artifacts. The depth of the wreck was unable to be explored at that time, but as technology and exploration capabilities progressed, decades later the Tampa-based company began to see what else was below the waters and what could be recovered.
The treasure had been found a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico, reported KIII TV.
The galleon Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario, of the Tierra Firme treasure fleet, was sailing back to Spain after collecting colonial treasures back in 1622. It was struck down by a fierce hurricane off the southwest tip of Florida, about 400 miles from the Florida Keys.
History says the fleet had 28 ships, and the Rosario was one of eight that sank in the storm. Approximately 500 people had died.
These wrecks were devastating to the Spanish economy, according to Live Science, "effectively closing the curtain on the Golden Age of Spain." Reportedly, these treasures were needed to repair the struggling Spanish Empire.
The shipwreck "is the most important Spanish galleon to be found because of what its loss meant," Sean Kingsley, a marine archaeologist who has been studying the wreck, told The Times (U.K.). "Its loss broke the Bank of Madrid at a time when there was 300 percent inflation in Spain, and it was in serious debt for its endless wars."
For almost 400 years its treasures sat on the Gulf's floor. The more than 17,000-piece treasure included over 6,000 rare pearls, many which were the diameter of a nickel when harvested. Also recovered were silver coins, precious stones, gold bars and long strands of gold necklaces, to name a few. Other artifacts recovered included 17th century pottery, jars holding olives and other foods.
Screenshot of some of the treasures found on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. The shipwreck site has...
Screenshot of some of the treasures found on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. The shipwreck site has been identified to be that of the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario. This Spanish ship was lost at sea during a massive hurricane in 1622.
Odyssey Marine Exploration/Courtesy KIII TV
None of the coins found at the wreck site are dated beyond 1622, further supporting the theory of the 17th century ship's identity.
Another unique find were parrot bones, which are reportedly the first parrot remains to ever be found on a shipwreck, according to the Daily Mail.
It took about 20 years to pull up the treasure, according to accounts.
Greg Stemm, president of Odyssey Marine Exploration told The Times, "This is the major find of our time."
This page on the Odyssey Marine Exploration's website, provides details on the ship and circumstances surrounding its history.
More about Shipwrecks, Shipwreck, 400 year old shipwreck, Treasure, Gulf of Mexico
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