The site of one of the world’s most precious shipwrecks, which had been undiscovered for nearly three centuries, was revealed by the Colombian army.
When it was sunk by British navy ships in 1708 during the War of Spanish Succession, the galleon San Jose was carrying a great amount of riches.
The ship, a 64-gun galleon with over 600 people aboard, is thought to have been carrying at least 200 tonnes of treasure, including gold coins, silver coins, and emeralds, estimated to be valued up to $17 billion at current values.
The wreck commonly referred to as “the holy grail of shipwrecks” was discovered by Colombian navy personnel off the coast of Cartagena in 2015, but its exact position is unknown.
At a press conference on June 6, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, unveiled never-before-seen footage and photographs of the crash.
The photographs revealed newly unearthed Chinese pottery, gold coins, swords, and cannons, among other valuables.
Duque stated during a news conference, “The goal is to recover it and to create sustainable finance arrangements for future extractions.” Thus, we safeguard the treasure, the heritage of the San Jose galleon.
The photographs and video were reportedly captured by remotely operated, cutting-edge technology that fell around 3,280 feet to study the wreckage’s crevices.
The guns were produced around 1655 in Seville and Cádiz, Spain, according to inscriptions on the cannons, said the Colombian navy’s marine director-general, Admiral José Joaqun Amézquita.
In addition, he mentioned the finding of gold coins, or macuquinas, with currency of the period.
Duque said that surveillance of the wreck led to the discovery of two more shipwrecks nearby, a colonial vessel and an 18th-century schooner.
Since its discovery, the San Jose wreck has been the subject of an ongoing legal struggle, as reported by The Economist.
Former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed into law in 2013 the Submerged Cultural Heritage Law, which states that objects discovered in Colombian waterways are the property of the state.
However, Spain has also claimed a claim, citing UNESCO’s convention on submerged cultural assets and stating that the ship belonged to them.
Many of the ship’s assets were presumably looted from South American nations, some of which may also lay claim to a portion of the loot.