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Spanish Researchers Begin New World Shipwreck List

Friday, March 1, 2019

Spain shipwreck listMADRID, SPAIN—The Guardian reports that archaeologists Carlos León and Beatriz Domingo and naval historian Genoveva Enríquez have combed Spain’s archives and compiled a list of 681 Spanish ships lost off the coasts of Cuba, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Atlantic coast of the United States since 1492, when Christopher Columbus’ flagship, Santa María, sank off the coast of what is now Haiti. León said the objective of the project, which is sponsored by Spain’s Culture Ministry, is to help identify and protect shipwreck sites, especially those that have been lost from memory. “The most famous ships have been investigated,” he said, “but there’s a huge number about which we know absolutely nothing.” The researchers found that more than 90 percent of the ships sank in severe weather, about four percent ran onto reefs or had navigational problems; one percent were sunk during naval engagements with the British, Dutch, or United States; and less than one percent were sunk during pirate attacks. Fewer than 25 percent of these wrecks have been found to date, León added. The documents also revealed the ships headed toward the New World carried things like religious objects and stones for building churches; tons of mercury to extract gold and silver from New World ores; clothing for slaves; and weapons for putting down local rebellions. To read more about underwater archaeology, go to “History's 10 Greatest Wrecks.”

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