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Wreck of Christopher Columbus' flagship found -- and promptly looted

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/15/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Haitian officals want to preserve the wreck for a museum.

Undersea investigators and historians agree that a shipwreck discovered off the coast of Haiti is most likely that of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship. The ship has long been lost to history, despite a good notion of where it ought to be found. Now investigators want to return to confirm their find.

The wreck of the 'Santa Maria' may have been found.

The wreck of the "Santa Maria" may have been found.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/15/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Haiti, Christopher Columbus, Santa Maria, ship, wreck, site


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Undersea investigators believe they have discovered the wreck of Christopher Columbus' flagship the Santa Maria, lost during his first voyage to the Americas in 1492.

Barry Clifford, leader of the expedition said, ""All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus' famous flagship, the Santa Maria."  He told The Independent that "the Haitian government has been extremely helpful."

The patron saint of Christopher Columbus, St. Christopher - get your medal here.

Clifford's team has mapped and photographed the site, but now they want to return to the site to recover artifacts and confirm the discovery. An earlier expedition from 2003 located a cannon and other artifacts, but did not recover them. Earlier this month when Clifford and his divers went to the site to make the recovery, they found the cannon and artifacts missing. Somebody had already looted the site.

Despite the looting, Clifford's team believes there will be artifacts beneath the wooden wreckage of the ship they can still recover to conclusively identify the site.

Several clues have already suggested this is the Santa Maria. Among them are ballast stones, the size and outline of the wreckage, and its position relative to predictions inferred by Columbus's diary and the discovery on nearby land of the fort built partially with the ship's wreckage in 1492.

Columbus ordered that salvageable parts of the ship be incorporated into a fort in which he left several of his men at the end of his voyage. As Columbus hurried back to Spain to report he had found a sea route to Asia, and thus access to the rich spice markets and trade that Asia offered, the remaining sailors encountered unknown difficulties with the natives on the island. When Columbus returned for his men, they had all disappeared and the fort was burned.

Haitian officials say they would like to preserve the wreck and raise parts of the ship for display in a museum. Such a display could help boots Haiti's tourism industry.

For now, another expedition in in the works to recover a definitive artifact that will conclusively demonstrate the find in the Santa Maria. If successful and correct, the find will be one of the most culturally significant discoveries of the century.

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