Colombia declares protected area around San José Galleon Shipwreck

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The Colombian government has begun exploring a sunk 18th-century Spanish ship, which it has named the "holy grail of shipwrecks."
The Colombian government has begun exploring a sunk 18th-century Spanish ship, which it has named the "holy grail of shipwrecks."

The Colombian government has begun exploring a sunk 18th-century Spanish ship, which it has named the “holy grail of shipwrecks.”

Introduction:

The Colombian government has declared a protected archaeological area around the San José galleon, a ship sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1708 near Cartagena in the Caribbean Sea. 

The galleon, carrying an estimated £16bn ($20bn) in treasure, remains one of the largest hauls of valuables ever lost at sea. Ownership of the shipwreck and its contents remains contested.

Historical Context:

The San José galleon was transporting treasure to the Spanish king to fund his war against the British when it was attacked and sunk, taking nearly 600 crew members with it. The wreck was discovered by Colombia in 2015, but legal disputes over its ownership continue, with claims from the US salvage company Sea Search Armada and Spain.

Research Project:

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The first phase of the research project, known as the “characterisation phase,” will involve using remote sensors to generate images of the site and create an inventory of the archaeological materials on the seabed. 

Underwater robots will take readings around the shipwreck, which will aid in academic studies, according to the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History.

Protected Status and Future Plans:

The Colombian government has declared the site a protected area to preserve its significant scientific and heritage value. Culture Minister Juan David Correa described the exploratory expedition as “unprecedented.” 

No archaeological excavations are planned during the initial stage of the project, and subsequent phases will depend on the findings of the first phase.

Legal and Heritage Implications:

The declaration of the protected area is aimed at safeguarding the site from unauthorized exploration and preserving its archaeological integrity. The project, titled “towards the heart of the San José galleon,” reflects Colombia’s commitment to the scientific study and preservation of the site.

Conclusion:

The San José galleon’s protected status marks a significant step in the preservation and study of one of the most valuable shipwrecks in history. 

As the research project unfolds, it holds the potential to uncover further historical insights while navigating the complex legal landscape surrounding the ownership of the galleon’s treasure.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a seasoned contributor to the Los Angeles Business Magazine, where he offers insightful analysis on local business trends and economic developments. With a focus on Los Angeles' dynamic commercial landscape, Gary's articles provide valuable perspectives for entrepreneurs and business professionals in the city.

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