In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue from Spain. According to the Huffington Post, a shipwreck found off the coast of Haiti may be the Santa Maria, the long lost flagship of Christopher Columbus and one of the three ships that reached the Americas in his 1492 expedition.
“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” Barry Clifford, the expedition leader, told The Independent newspaper. The paper also reported that Clifford’s team found and photographed the wreck 10 years ago, but did not realize what it was until recently. “It is the Mount Everest of shipwrecks for me,” said Clifford, 68, according to CNN News. Barry Clifford is known for discovering a pirate ship off Cape Cod back in 1984. The Whydah was the first fully verified pirate shipwreck ever discovered – as such, artifacts from the wreck provide unique insights into the material culture of early 18th century piracy.
Columbus, anchored somewhere along the Atlantic coast, upped sails to begin the long voyage back to Spain with news he had discovered a western route to the Orient. The next day—Christmas, 1492—his flagship, the Santa María, lodged in a reef. They then dismantled the ship and built a fort with its timbers. Christopher Columbus then set sail aboard the Niña, leaving behind a fortified village, christened it Villa de la Navidad, and left 39 sailors charged with exploring the coast and with amassing gold.
According to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, a year later, Christopher Columbus returned with 17 ships and with 1,200 men to enlarge the new settlement. But he found La Navidad was in ashes. There were no inhabitants and there was no gold. Over the years, many scholars and adventurers have searched for La Navidad, the prize of Columbian archaeology. It is believed to have been in Haiti.
The ship “still has attributes that warrant an excavation to determine the site’s identity,” archaeologist Charles Beeker of Indiana University said according to CNN News.
According to the Huffington Post, the History Channel has been filming the operation and plans to broadcast a special on the effort. Barry Clifford, whose exploration of the site is also being backed by the History Channel, according to Oregon Live, says that he has asked the Haitian government to preserve the area around the wreck. “The next step is a careful, thorough and timely excavation,” he said. Archaeology enthusiasts are excitedly awaiting the finds.
Image credit: www.scmp.com