Asianet NewsableAsianet Newsable

Columbia is sending a robot to recover bounty worth billions from 'holy grail' of shipwrecks

Colombia announces an expedition to salvage treasures from the San Jose galleon, a legendary shipwreck laden with gold, silver, and emeralds that sank in 1708. The operation aims to retrieve items of "incalculable value" from the wreck, with an underwater robot deployed to extract artefacts without damaging the site

Columbia is sending a robot to recover bounty worth billions from 'holy grail' of shipwrecks
First Published Feb 24, 2024, 6:29 PM IST

Colombia's government has announced plans for an ambitious expedition aimed at retrieving priceless artefacts from the wreckage of the renowned San Jose galleon, which sank in 1708 laden with immense treasures, including gold, silver, and emeralds valued at billions of dollars. Often dubbed the "holy grail" of shipwrecks, the 316-year-old wreck holds both archaeological significance and economic potential.

According to Culture Minister Juan David Correa, after more than eight years since the discovery of the wreck off Colombia's coast, an underwater robot will be deployed to commence the retrieval process. The operation, anticipated to cost over $4.5 million, will see the robot operating at a depth of 600 meters to extract items such as ceramics, wood fragments, and shells from the galleon's surface without causing damage to the wreck.

The expedition's precise location remains undisclosed to safeguard the site from unauthorized treasure hunters, underscoring its status as one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in history. The San Jose galleon, owned by the Spanish crown, met its demise near Cartagena in 1708 after being intercepted by the British navy, resulting in the loss of most of its crew and cargo.

The discovery of the galleon in 2015 triggered a contentious debate over the custody of its treasures. While Spain asserts its claim to the bounty owing to its origin on a Spanish vessel, Bolivia's Qhara Qhara nation contends that the treasures should be rightfully returned due to the exploitation of their ancestors by the Spanish.

In a departure from historical disputes over colonial-era treasures, Colombia, under leftist President Gustavo Petro's leadership, aims to utilize its own resources to oversee the salvage operation and ensure the artefacts remain within the country. This approach seeks to transcend past narratives of territorial disputes and colonial-era conflicts.

Amidst ongoing legal battles, including a case at the UN's Permanent Court of Arbitration involving Colombia and the US-based salvage company Sea Search Armada, the expedition marks a pivotal moment in Colombia's efforts to reclaim its historical heritage. As the nation moves forward with the ambitious endeavour, stakeholders remain hopeful for a resolution that respects the cultural and spiritual significance of the recovered artefacts.

WATCH The Story Of San Jose Shipwreck

Follow Us:
Download App:
  • android
  • ios