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Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria 

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Old 05-13-2014, 03:57 PM
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Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.

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“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.

“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.

So far, Mr Clifford’s team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.

Tentatively identifying the wreck as the Santa Maria has been made possible by quite separate discoveries made by other archaeologists in 2003 suggesting the probable location of Columbus’ fort relatively nearby. Armed with this new information about the location of the fort, Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.

An expedition, mounted by his team a decade ago, had already found and photographed the wreck – but had not, at that stage, realized its probable identity.

It’s a current re-examination of underwater photographs from that initial survey (carried out back in 2003), combined with data from recent reconnaissance dives on the site (carried out by Clifford’s team earlier this month), that have allowed Clifford to tentatively identify the wreck as that of the Santa Maria.

The evidence so far is substantial. It is the right location in terms of how Christopher Columbus, writing in his diary, described the wreck in relation to his fort.

The site is also an exact match in terms of historical knowledge about the underwater topography associated with the loss of the Santa Maria. The local currents are also consistent with what is known historically about the way the vessel drifted immediately prior to its demise.

The footprint of the wreck, represented by the pile of ship’s ballast, is also exactly what one would expect from a vessel the size of the Santa Maria.

Using marine magnetometers, side-scan sonar equipment and divers, Mr. Clifford’s team has, over several years, investigated more than 400 seabed anomalies off the north coast of Haiti and has narrowed the search for the Santa Maria down to the tiny area where the wreck, which the team thinks may well be Columbus’ lost vessel, has been found.

A re-examination of the photographic evidence taken during the 2003 initial survey of the site by Mr. Clifford and his son Brandon has also provided evidence which is consistent with the vessel being from Columbus’ era - including a probable early cannon of exactly the type known to have been on-board the Santa Maria.

When Clifford and his team returned to the site earlier this month, their intention was to definitively identify the cannon and other surface artefacts that had been photographed back in 2003. But tragically all the key visible diagnostic objects including the cannon had been looted by illicit raiders.

“We’ve informed the Haitian government of our discovery – and we are looking forward to working with them and other Haitian colleagues to ensure that the site is fully protected and preserved. It will be a wonderful opportunity to work with the Haitian authorities to preserve the evidence and artefacts of the ship that changed the world,” said Mr. Clifford.

“I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America.”

“Ideally, if excavations go well and depending on the state of preservation of any buried timber, it may ultimately be possible to lift any surviving remains of the vessel, fully conserve them and then put them on permanent public exhibition in a museum in Haiti.

“I believe that, treated in this way, the wreck has the potential to play a major role in helping to further develop Haiti’s tourism industry in the future,” he said.

Mr Clifford, who discussed the wreck site with the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly last year, is one of the world’s most experienced explorers of underwater archaeological sites. He has carried out survey work on dozens of historic wrecks in different parts of the world over the past four decades – and was the discoverer and excavator of the world’s first fully verified pirate shipwreck, the Whydah, back in 1984, and more recently discovered Captain Kidd’s flagship off Madagascar.

The Santa Maria was built at some stage in the second half of the 15 century in northern Spain’s Basque Country. In 1492, Columbus hired the ship and sailed in it from southern Spain’s Atlantic coast via the Canary Islands in search of a new western route to Asia.

After 37 days, Columbus reached the Bahamas – but, just over ten weeks later, his flagship, the Santa Maria, with Columbus on board, drifted at night onto a reef off the northern coast of Haiti and had to be abandoned. Then, in a native village nearby, Columbus began building his first fort – and, a week later, leaving many of his men behind in the fort, he used his two remaining vessels to sail back to Spain in order to report his discovery of what he perceived as a new westerly route to Asia to his royal patrons - King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

A leading American maritime archaeologist, Professor Charles Beeker of Indiana University, who accompanied Mr Clifford’s recent reconnaissance expedition to Haiti and who also carried out an underwater visual assessment of the site, says that it “warrants a detailed scientific investigation to obtain diagnostic artefacts”.

“There is some very compelling evidence from the 2003 photographs of the site and from the recent reconnaissance dives that this wreck may well be the Santa Maria,”

“But an excavation will be necessary in order to find more evidence and confirm that,” said Professor Beeker who is Director of the University of Indiana’s Office of Underwater Science.

The investigation into the wreck is being supported by the American TV network, the History channel, which has secured the exclusive rights to produce a major television programme on the subject.

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The underwater remains of what is thought to be Columbus’s flagship (Brandon Clifford)

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Christopher Columbus (Alamy)

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Old 05-13-2014, 05:18 PM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

they could end up restoring it like they did with the 'mary rose'

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Old 05-14-2014, 07:45 AM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

Santa Maria! Five more shipwrecks that came back from the deep

Marine archaeologists think they have located the remains of Christopher Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria, off the coast of Haiti. It joins an impressive list of other historic wrecks that have been found recently

Queen Anne's Revenge
Perhaps the most famous of all pirate ships began life in 1710 as a Royal Navy frigate called the Concord. Almost immediately after launch, she was captured by the French and converted into a slave ship, before being captured again by the pirate Ben Hornigold near Martinique. Hornigold put her under the command of one of his men, Edward Teach, soon to be known as Blackbeard. Just one busy year later, Blackbeard ran the ship aground off the coast of North Carolina, where it remained undisturbed until being rediscovered by the private research firm Intersal in 1996. Since then, many items have been salvaged, including a motley assortment of cannons, and the 1.4-tonne anchor.

Quedagh Merchant
Originally an Armenian-built Indian merchant vessel, this ship became famous when it was captured by Captain Kidd in 1698 near Kochi in the Arabian Sea. A privateer with instructions to loot enemy vessels, Kidd was subsequently considered a pirate, and hid the Quedagh Merchant before being captured and hung, after a sensational trial. For centuries, the ship's unknown location was a matter of legend, until it was at last found off Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic in 2007. Incredibly, it lay in shallow clear water close to the shore, and had never been touched.

The Mary Rose
It was never very far away – only in the Solent – but Henry VIII's beloved warship proved remarkably elusive after it sank in 1545, while leading an attack on the invading French fleet. A group of specialist salvors from Venice managed to reclaim some bits and pieces straight away, but soon afterwards it was forgotten. In 1836, the diving pioneers John and Charles Deane returned after a fishing net snagged on part of the wreckage, but they promptly lost the location again after recovering a few timbers and weapons. Finally, in 1971, the ship was found again, and then famously raised in 1980. It is now on display in Portsmouth.

HMS Beagle
In itself, the ship that launched the theory of evolution was unremarkable. Built as a basic 10-gun Royal Navy brig in 1820, it was soon refitted as a survey vessel, in which state it carried Darwin on his momentous voyage to South America in 1831. Years later, it began to be used as a Customs and Excise patrol boat, catching smugglers off the Essex coast, and was last heard of being sold for scrap (for £525) in 1870. Yet recent research appears to have found most of it buried under 12ft of mud in the river Roach. If correct, the Beagle could, in theory, be excavated and one day put on show.

HMS Victory
Nelson's flagship of the same name never sank, and today is in Portsmouth as a museum ship. Its predecessor, however, was one of the Royal Navy's greatest warships until it disappeared in a storm near the Channel Islands in 1744. In 2008, it was found by the underwater treasure-hunting company Odyssey Marine, which plans to raise the wreck in the near future. As their website says: "Research indicates that the Victory sank with a substantial amount of specie aboard." Specie means coins – specifically here gold and silver – which might today be worth as much as £500m.

Pic - the Santa Maria

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Old 05-14-2014, 07:56 AM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

Very interesting reading, thanks icheerthebull!

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Old 05-14-2014, 08:04 AM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

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A lookout on the Pinta, Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodríguez Bermeo), spotted land about 2:00 on the morning of 12 October, and immediately alerted the rest of the crew with a shout.

Thereupon, the captain of the Pinta, Martín Alonso Pinzón, verified the discovery and alerted Columbus by firing a lombard.

Columbus later maintained that he himself had already seen a light on the land a few hours earlier, thereby claiming for himself the lifetime pension promised by Ferdinand and Isabella to the first person to sight land.

The indigenous people he encountered, the Lucayan, Taíno, or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly. Noting their gold ear ornaments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks prisoner and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold.

Columbus remarked that their lack of modern weaponry and metal-forged swords or pikes was a tactical vulnerability, writing, "I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased."

the Santa María ran aground on Christmas Day 1492 and had to be abandoned. The wreck was used as a target for cannon fire to impress the native peoples.

Columbus was received by the native cacique Guacanagari, who gave him permission to leave some of his men behind. Columbus left 39 men behind in a fort they built and Columbus kidnapped about 10 to 25 natives and took them back with him (only seven or eight of the native Indians arrived in Spain alive, but they made quite an impression.

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Old 05-14-2014, 08:05 AM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

Wow, how cool is this?

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Old 05-14-2014, 10:13 AM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

Pretty cool, but it takes a special kind of cunt to note how friendly people are before taking them hostage and kidnapping them.

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Old 05-14-2014, 12:18 PM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

Never know what they'll uncover and find.

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Old 05-14-2014, 01:48 PM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria

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Originally Posted by DannyDrama View Post
Pretty cool, but it takes a special kind of cunt to note how friendly people are before taking them hostage and kidnapping them.
Some say cunt, others say oppertunist. like the school history books.

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Old 05-14-2014, 06:41 PM
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Re: Found After 500 Years, the Wreck of C. Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria


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