The PJ Tatler

Have Scientists Found the Santa Maria?

This gave me chills reading it. The mystery of the resting place of Christopher Columbus’s flagship may have been solved after 500 years.

The Independent is reporting exclusively that archeologists believe they have found the remains of the Santa Maria — the ship that carried Columbus to the New World in 1492.

The key discovery actually occurred in 2003 when archeologists pinpointed Columbus’s first fort in the New World on the coast of Haiti. From there, it was a matter of some brilliant detective work and a careful reading of Columbus’ journal.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.

“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.

So far, Mr Clifford’s team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.

Tentatively identifying the wreck as the Santa Maria has been made possible by quite separate discoveries made by other archaeologists in 2003 suggesting the probable location of Columbus’ fort relatively nearby. Armed with this new information about the location of the fort, Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.

An expedition, mounted by his team a decade ago, had already found and photographed the wreck – but had not, at that stage, realized its probable identity.

It’s a current re-examination of underwater photographs from that initial survey (carried out back in 2003), combined with data from recent reconnaissance dives on the site (carried out by Clifford’s team earlier this month), that have allowed Clifford to tentatively identify the wreck as that of the Santa Maria.

The evidence so far is substantial. It is the right location in terms of how Christopher Columbus, writing in his diary, described the wreck in relation to his fort.

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(The final resting place of the Santa Maria?)

The History Channel is underwriting the dig and may have hit the jackpot. Can you imagine the ratings for a show that tells the story of how they found the Santa Maria? They would at least rival the National Geographic Channel show about the finding of the Titanic.

They may never be able to conclusively prove the wreck is the Santa Maria. There isn’t much left after 500 years. But if they ever do confirm the discovery, it will be one of the most significant historical finds in history.