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article imageColombia finds Spanish galleon sunk in 1708 with huge treasure

By Igor I. Solar     Dec 6, 2015 in Travel
Cartagena - The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, announced the galleon 'San José', flagship of the Spanish Armada that was sunk by gunfire by English pirates in the XVIII century, was found at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Cartagena de Indias.
Santos has confirmed the Spanish vessel was found early in the morning of November 27. "I am very pleased to inform Colombians without any doubt that we have found the galleon San José 307 years after it sank."
The sunken vessel was found by a team from the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH) operating aboard the "ARC Malpelo," a ship equipped with "modern technology" belonging to Colombia’s National Navy.
Santos said the discovery is "of global importance" and is one of the biggest revelations of the "world’s underwater heritage." ICANH director, Ernesto Montenegro, said that the vessel’s identification is based on "cast bronze cannons" which were made especially for this galleon. The presence of these cannons confirms the authenticity of the archaeological find.
Santos, paid tribute to the sailors who died in the sinking, and announced that “the owners of this treasure are all Colombians and humanity."
“This is not only about raising a bunch of shiny gold coins,” he said. “It’s a discovery of extraordinary cultural and historical importance”, reports the Wall Street Journal. The government is committed to protecting this treasure, and to this end, he determined that all the information pertaining to the case "is reserved."
The San José, built in 1698, has been one of the vessels most sought after by treasure hunters. Her last journey began in Panama. It was loaded with jewels, precious stones, and gold and silver from Peru and the Viceroyalty of New Granada (modern-day Colombia). Its navigation plan included a stop in the port of Cartagena de Indias, and another stop in Havana before returning to Spain.
However, the galleon failed to return to Spain. It was sunk on June 8, 1708, before arriving in Cartagena de Indias. The ship, equipped with 62 cannons, was intercepted by English pirate ships and sank by gunfire.
The shipwreck rested on the seabed near Baru Island. Several expeditions, encouraged by the high value of the goods transported, had attempted to discover its location.
According to Colombian marine archaeologists, the value of the discovery may be as high as $5 billion to $17 billion and it could be the world's largest sunken treasure ever found. It is estimated that in Colombian territorial waters could be about 1,100 Spanish galleons laden with gold, silver and precious stones that capsized or were sunk by pirates in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
A panoramic of the port of Cartagena de Indias  Colombia. Baru Island is located south of the Port a...
A panoramic of the port of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Baru Island is located south of the Port at the end of what used to be the Barú Peninsula. Following the construction of a canal, Baru became an island.
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