Colombia protects marine site where treasure of legendary Spanish galleon lies | TV5MONDE

Colombia protects marine site where treasure of legendary Spanish galleon lies | TV5MONDE
Colombia protects marine site where treasure of legendary Spanish galleon lies | TV5MONDE

The Colombian government has declared a protected archaeological zone the place where the Spanish galleon San José lies, sunk more than three centuries ago in the Caribbean Sea with its holds filled with gold and precious stones of estimated value “invaluable”.

“This is the first time that a submerged archaeological heritage zone has been declared at such a depth (600 m, editor’s note), it is historic in Latin America,” declared the Minister of Culture, Juan David Correa, in presenting on Wednesday the first “non-intrusive” stage of a scientific expedition to the wreck.

The vessel, one of the largest in the Spanish armada, was sunk by the British fleet during the night of June 7, 1708 near the Rosario Islands, off the coast of Cartagena de Indias, in northwestern Colombia. . It transported gold, silver and precious stones from the Spanish colonies in America to the court of King Philip V.

The current mission with the help of a robot capable of descending to such depths, carried out by the Ministries of Defense and Culture, the Navy and the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (Icanh), must evaluate the wreck discovered in 2015. The Colombian army revealed previously unpublished images in 2022 after four observation campaigns.

This archaeological zone declaration “guarantees the protection of heritage through its long-term preservation and the development of research, conservation and valorization activities,” declared the Ministry of Culture in a press release.

The exact location of the San José is, however, kept secret, in order to protect from pirates and other malicious treasure hunters, which is considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in history.

But since it was located, the galleon has been the subject of litigation due to the high value of the items on board, estimated at several billion dollars.

Spain claimed ownership based on a Unesco convention to which Colombia is not a party, and indigenous Bolivians claimed the ship’s riches had been taken from their land.

The government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro wants, using the country’s resources alone, to recover the wreck and ensure that its precious cargo remains in the country to contribute to science and culture.

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