An expedition, led by Allen Exploration, has recovered a trove of priceless artefacts from a shipwreck over 350 years old in the Bahamas. The artefacts, which include jewel-encrusted pendants and gold chains, will be on display at the new Bahamas Maritime Museum.
The Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders) sank with a cargo of gold, silver, and gems on the western side of the Little Bahama Bank in 1656. The Spanish galleon was part of a fleet sailing to Spain from Havana with royal and privately-consigned treasures from the Americas. Failing to navigate shallow waters, however, it collided with the flagship of the fleet and hit a reef. Of the 650 people on board, only 45 survived.
The ship went down on the western side of the Little Bahama Bank, over 70km offshore, but the newly discovered treasures were found across a vast debris trail spanning more than 13km.
There have already been several successful attempts to retrieve the ship's cargo, with almost 3.5 million items recovered between the 1650s and 1990s, according to shipwreck specialist Allen Exploration, which carried out a two-year expedition from 2020. Allen Exploration, with Bahamian and US marine archaeologists and divers, was licensed by the Bahamian government to explore the Maravillas scientifically and is committed to displaying the finds in a new museum in the Bahamas.
Among the discoveries were a 1.76-meter-long gold filigree chain and several bejewelled pendants that once belonged to knights of the Order of Santiago, a centuries-old religious and military order. One of the gold pendants features a large oval Colombian emerald and a dozen smaller emeralds, which experts believe may represent the 12 apostles, alongside the Cross of St. James. Three other knightly pendants were also discovered, including one shaped to look like a golden scallop shell, CNN reports.
"When we brought up the oval emerald and gold pendant, my breath caught in my throat," Allen stated, adding: "How these tiny pendants survived in these harsh waters, and how we managed to find them, is the miracle of the Maravillas."
Allen Exploration (AEX)
AEX is a diversified investment company that invests in many different asset classes and actively manages several businesses.
AEX actively invests in stocks, real estate, private equity, and venture capital. AEX is currently restoring the northernmost Bahamian island, Walker’s Cay, to its previous glory. Allen Exploration has partnered with The Bahamian government to search for and document historic period shipwrecks and the maritime history of The Bahamas.