- On 09/12/2015
- In Shipwrecks of the "New World"
This is the biggest cultural find in the history of humanity - well, according to Juan Manuel Santos at least. The Colombian president was visibly proud as he spoke about what could be buried inside the 300-year-old San Jose galleon, which was recently found on the bottom of the Caribbean Sea.
"We will build a big museum, just like they do in the Scandinavian countries," he said, before cheekily adding, that this discovery is actually more significant than anything that has been found in those countries.
He does have a right to be excited. Researchers predict that 11 million gold pieces and 200 tons of jewels are still buried in the ship.
That could be worth anywhere between $3 billion and $17 billion (2.75 billion euros and 15.58 billion euros) in today's money.
So far, however, the team of Colombian and international scientists has only identified the ship's canons and ceramic containers seen on the underwater photos.
The galleon was found not far from where Santos held his speech, just off the Colombian coast.
On June 8, 1708, the square-rigged ship with three masts was on its way to Spain. But the San Jose didn't get far. A number of pirate ships, sailing under British flags, opened fire on the boat.
Finally, between the Rosario Islands and the Baru peninsula the boat went down. This was a time when various European countries were grappling for supremacy worldwide, as they jostled to take over from the Habsburgs.
"Attacks on Spanish boats overseas by the English were commonplace," said Nikolaus Böttcher, a historian at the Free University of Berlin.
"It was done to weaken the Spanish royal family."