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Sunken jewels and buried treasure from a famous Spanish shipwreck from the 17th century were found in the Bahamas

The famous shipwreck of the Maravillas in the 17th century left behind a lot of jewels, medallions, and other historical items that have been found in the Bahamas. The public can now see them.

A two-deck Spanish galleon called "Nuestra Seora de las Maravillas" (Our Lady of Wonders) sank on January 4, 1656, off the Little Bahama Bank in the northern Bahamas. It was on its way from Cuba to Seville.

It was carrying a lot of treasures, some of which were royal tax and some of which were private property.

The 891-ton ship sank after it crashed into the fleet's leader.

It hit a reef 30 minutes later, which caused it to sink in the end.

The ship's wreckage was spread out over several miles of the ocean, with no big pieces of the ship left behind.

Archaeologists and adventurers have tried for more than 360 years to find the pieces of the ship that were lost in the wreckage.

Allen Exploration has been pulling out pieces of the treasure since 2020.
Allen Exploration

Most of the treasure, about 3.5 million pieces out of eight, was found between 1656 and the early 1990s. However, Allen Exploration has used modern tools like high-resolution magnetometers, enhanced GPS, and metal detecting to find treasures that are beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Carl Allen, the founder of Allen Exploration, said that he and his team would start digging up valuable artifacts near Walker's Cay in July 2020.

The entrepreneur said that using high-tech tools and getting permission from the Bahamian government to search the Northern Bahamas, which is known as a wreckage hotspot, led to "quite amazing" finds.

“We’ve recovered thousands of artifacts,” he said.

“Cannons, anchors, emeralds and amethysts … We’re up to about 3,000 silver coins and 25 gold coins,” he said.

Man holding gold coin.
Allen Exploration used high-tech tools to locate and pull the riches out of the water.
Allen Exploration

He said that the water in the area is only 50 feet deep, while the sand can hide treasures as deep as 20 feet.

Allen didn't let this stop him from proving his doubters wrong and finding treasures that made him gasp for air.

“When I pulled up the first valuable item, I lost my breath,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

“I’ve been thinking about this my whole life.”

A press release from AllenX says that among the other interesting finds are Spanish olive jars, Chinese porcelain, and iron rigging.

The team also found a soldier's silver sword handle that belonged to Don Martin de Aranda y Gusmán. This item helped the teams figure out that these treasures came from the shipwrecked Maravillas.

Four pendants that members of the sacred Order of Santiago wore were also found. The Order of Santiago was a group of religious knights who worked in the Spanish maritime trade.

The finding of the Maravillas reflects an “amazing leap” in technology.
Allen Exploration

Allen X thought that the jewels from the Order of Santiago were the "star" finds so far.

The shape of a scallop shell was used to make a gold pendant with the Cross of Santiago.

It's held together by what looks like an Indian bezoar stone, which is a famous healing stone in Europe.
Sunken jewels, buried treasure uncovered in the Bahamas from iconic 17th  century Spanish shipwreck -
The same cross is on top of a large, round Columbian emerald on another gold pendant.

Three gold chains were found. One of them was an 887-gram gold filigree chain with 80 circular links and four-lobed rosette designs, which the group said was probably made in the Philippines.

AllenX said that there are no exact copies of the chain in museum collections or in Spanish portraits that came from other excavations.

Archaeologist Jim Sinclair of Allen Exploration told Fox News Digital that these artifacts show how people lived in the New World and during the colonial era.

Sinclair has been an archeologist for 40 years and was one of the first people to explore famous wrecks like the Titanic. He said that a recovery like the one from the Maravillas shows that technology has made a "amazing leap."

The archeologist also thought that analyzing artifacts was a "really good development" for finding out about people and their history.

Bill Springer, a spokesperson for Allen Exploration, said that even though these artifacts are worth millions of dollars, they are priceless.

None of the things that the Allen Exploration team found will be auctioned off or sold.

Divers looking for treasure.
The findings will be put on display at a museum.
Allen Exploration

Instead, the items will be put on display at the Bahamas Maritime Museum, which is part of Allen Exploration and is at the Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport.

On Saturday, August 6, 2022, the museum will open to the public.

It will show other displays about the maritime history of the Bahamas, the transatlantic slave trade, and the Lucayan people.

Only 45 survivors

The story of how the ship went down is also part of the Maravillas exhibit.

Only 45 people are known to have made it off the ship alive. There were about 650 people on board.

No remains of people have been found.

Allen said that the shipwreck was a "terrible blow" because Spain was having money problems at the time and the boat was full of valuables.

It was one of the biggest treasure ships to ever leave the Indies, which is why Allen thinks more artifacts will still be found.

The “mother lode” has yet to be discovered, he indicated; and when it is, he said the haul would be “extremely valuable.”

“The manifest usually on these old ships, a lot of times — it was only about half of what was on the ship because there was so much contraband,” he said. 

“So, that’s what’s exciting.”

Along with launching the museum, Allen is furthering his passion for discovery and education by developing underwater archeology programs for Bahamian kids.

“The big problem is, [the debris] is not going to stay there forever,” he said.

“And it’s a playground of shipwreck.”

“So, I created a path for other people to do this — and I welcome it.”


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