Sunken jewels, buried treasure discovered in the Bahamas from iconic 17th-century Spanish shipwreck

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Talking about a find.

A treasure trove of jewelry, medallions and historical artifacts dating back to the legendary 17th-century Maravillas shipwreck have been discovered in the Bahamas – and the public is about to take a look.

Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Miracles), a two-deck Spanish galleon, sank on January 4, 1656, off the Little Bahama Bank in the Northern Bahamas while traveling to Seville from Cuba.

It had carried numerous treasures of both royal tax and private property.

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The 891-ton ship sank after colliding with the flagship of the fleet.

It hit a reef 30 minutes later – and eventually sank.

An illustration of the Spanish galleon Our Lady of Wonders, which sank in 1656.

An illustration of the Spanish galleon Our Lady of Wonders, which sank in 1656.
(Allen exploration)

The remains of the ship were scattered several miles across the ocean, with no significant part of the ship remaining.

For more than 360 years, archaeologists and adventurers have been trying to locate the debris lost in the wreckage.

And while much of the treasure — an estimated 3.5 million out of eight — was salvaged between 1656 and the early 1990s, Allen Exploration has leveraged modern technology such as high-resolution magnetometers, improved GPS and metal detection to enhance the surface riches that beyond our imagination.

An explorer holds a gold coin found in the Bahamas, while an Allen scout boat can be seen in the distance.

An explorer holds a gold coin found in the Bahamas, while an Allen scout boat can be seen in the distance.
(Brendan Chavez/Allen Exploration)

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen said he and his team began excavating precious artifacts near Walker’s Cay in July 2020.

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High-tech tools, plus the official permission the Bahamian government has received to search the area of ​​the northern Bahamas — known as a wreck hotspot — has led to “pretty amazing” discoveries, the entrepreneur said.

“We have recovered thousands of artifacts,” he said.

An Allen Exploration fleet is shown in the waters of the Bahamas.

An Allen Exploration fleet is shown in the waters of the Bahamas.
(Brendan Chavez/Allen Exploration)

“Cannons, anchors, emeralds and amethysts… We have about 3,000 silver coins and 25 gold coins,” he said.

The water in the area only reaches up to 50 feet deep, while the sand can bury treasures up to 20 feet, he revealed.

But that didn’t stop Allen from proving his doubters wrong and discovering treasures that take his breath away.

Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen, pictured with his wife, Gigi, holds up an amethyst found on a wreckage in the Bahamas.

Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen, pictured with his wife, Gigi, holds up an amethyst found on a wreckage in the Bahamas.
(Matthew Rissell/Allen Exploration)

“When I picked up the first valuable item, I lost my breath,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

“I’ve thought about this all my life.”

The fascinating finds also include Spanish olive pots, Chinese porcelain and iron rigging, according to a press release from AllenX.

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The team also discovered a silver sword handle belonging to soldier Don Martin de Aranda y Gusmán; the item helped the teams identify these treasures as belonging to the sunken Maravillas.

A gold pendant with the cross of Santiago is designed in the shape of a shell.

Four pendants were also recovered that were worn by members of the Sacred Order of Santiago, a religious group of knights active in Spain’s maritime trade.

AllenX considered the jewelry of the Order of Santiago to be the “star” finds to date.

A gold pendant with the cross of Santiago is designed in the shape of a shell.

It is enhanced by what looks like an Indian bezoar stone – a famous European stone known for its healing properties.

A gold pendant appears to be holding an Indian bezoar stone.

A gold pendant appears to be holding an Indian bezoar stone.
(Nathaniel Harrington/Allen Exploration)

Another gold pendant collects the same cross over a large, oval Colombian emerald.

Three gold chains were recovered, including an 887-gram gold filigree chain made up of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs, most likely manufactured in the Philippines, the group said.

A gold pendant with the cross of Santiago is designed in the shape of a shell.

AllenX indicated that no exact replicas of the necklace exist from other excavations in museum collections or as seen in Spanish portraiture.

This 887 gram gold filigree necklace, made up of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs, was most likely made in the Philippines.

This 887 gram gold filigree necklace, made up of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs, was most likely made in the Philippines.
(Nathaniel Harrington/Allen Exploration)

Allen Exploration archaeologist Jim Sinclair told Fox News Digital that these artifacts reveal how people lived in the colonial period and in the New World.

An archaeologist of 40 years and an original explorer of iconic wrecks like the Titanic, Sinclair said a recovery like the Maravillas reflects an “astonishing leap” in technology.

The archaeologist also considered the artifact analysis a “really good development” in terms of detecting human behavior and history.

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While the value of these artifacts is likely to be worth millions of dollars, the items are priceless, said Bill Springer, spokesperson for Allen Exploration.

None of Allen Exploration’s findings will be auctioned or offered for sale.

Instead, the finds will become part of an exhibit at Allen Exploration’s Bahamas Maritime Museum, located at the Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport.

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The museum will open on Saturday, August 6, 2022.

It will reveal other exhibits on maritime history in the Bahamas, as well as the transatlantic slave trade and the Lucayan people.

Only 45 survivors

The Maravillas exhibition also shows the story of the ship’s sinking.

Of the nearly 650 passengers who were on board the ship, only 45 are known to have survived.

No human remains have been found.

Divers are shown searching for buried treasure at the bottom of the sea - the site of a shipwreck in the Bahamas.

Divers are shown searching for buried treasure at the bottom of the sea – the site of a shipwreck in the Bahamas.
(Exploration Chad Bagwell/Allen)

The shipwreck was a “huge blow,” Allen explained, as Spain was in dire straits financially at the time and the boat was full of valuables.

It was one of the largest treasure ships to ever leave the Indies – which is why Allen said he expects more artifacts to be discovered.

The “mother lode” has yet to be discovered.

The “mother vein” has yet to be discovered, he indicated; and if so, he said the catch would be “extremely valuable.”

“The manifest is usually on these old ships, often — it was only about half of what was on the ship, because there was so much contraband,” he said.

“So that’s the exciting thing.”

Divers explore a wreck in the Bahamas.

Divers explore a wreck in the Bahamas.
(Brendan Chavez/Allen Exploration)

In addition to launching the museum, Allen furthers his passion for discovery and education by developing underwater archeology programs for Bahamian children.

“The big problem is [the debris] won’t stay there forever,” he said.

“And it’s a playground of shipwreck.”

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“So I’ve created a path for other people to do this — and I applaud it.”

Allen Exploration’s Bahamas Maritime Museum in Freeport, Grand Bahama, opens on August 6, 2022.

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