Enfilade

Speaking of Shipwrecks: Nautical Archaeology — in Court and at Sea

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on January 1, 2010

From artdaily.org, 24 December 2009:

Gold coins and a gold box lie in situ. Hundreds of gold coins and more than 500,000 silver coins were discovered on the site. Photo from the Odyssey website.

A Florida treasure-hunting firm must hand over to Spain the $500 million in gold and silver coins the company salvaged more than two years ago from the bottom of the Atlantic, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday ruled. The judge rejected the arguments offered by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. to support its claim to the treasure. While giving Odyssey 10 days to turn over the hoard, Merryday left the door open to extending that deadline to accommodate a possible appeal by the Tampa-based company. Merryday found that the treasure recovered by Odyssey came from the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish navy frigate destroyed in battle in 1804, and that the vessel and its contents rightfully belong to Spain. He thus endorsed a June 3 report by federal Magistrate Mark Pizzo, who concluded the wreck was subject to the principle of sovereign immunity and that the valuables should be handed over to Madrid. The Mercedes sank in action against a British fleet on Oct. 5, 1804, off the coast of southern Portugal, and Spain claims not only the vessel and cargo, but a right to preserve the gravesite of more than 250 Spanish sailors and citizens who went down with the frigate. . .

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From artdaily.org, 30 December 2009:

A research team has discovered off Nagua, a city in the northeastern Dominican Republic, a Spanish galleon that apparently sank in the area between 1690-1700, the press reported Monday. The galleon, whose name is unknown, was found in October, allowing pieces of “incalculable historical value” to be recovered, the daily Listin Diario said. Among the objects discovered was a bell made in 1693, while on the deck is the Latin phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” (Glory Only to God), which could be the ship’s name, though that has yet to be confirmed by the experts. Also found on the galleon were navigation compasses and plumb lines for measuring depth, silver coins, a pistol, sword sheaths and other military items, as well as ornaments and several jewels, notably a ring set with eight diamonds, Listin Diario said. Other discoveries included plates with makers’ marks (castles, lions and fleurs-de-lis), silverware, buckles, bronze candlesticks, sword handles, and a device for measuring the ship’s speed in knots. . . .

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