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Will a cannonball lead to sunken treasure?

A group of underwater archaeologists are hoping that the cannonball they have found will lead them to a Spanish galleon that sank near Japan with a very valuable cargo in 1609. The Spanish galleon “San Francisco”, at the end of the first decade of the 15th century, was heading from the Philippines towards the coast
Published: December 13, 2017 - 13:35
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:09
Will a cannonball lead to sunken treasure?

A group of underwater archaeologists are hoping that the cannonball they have found will lead them to a Spanish galleon that sank near Japan with a very valuable cargo in 1609.

The Spanish galleon “San Francisco”, at the end of the first decade of the 15th century, was heading from the Philippines towards the coast of Mexico. Unfortunately, surprised by an unusually strong storm, it sank at the height of the coast of the cherry blossom country.

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Archaeologists emphasise that, according to available information, the vessel was carrying many valuable goods, the contemporary value of which must be estimated in millions of dollars. Although the position of the wreck of the lost galleon still remains a mystery, the cannonball found is the first such significant trace suggesting where to search.

The archaeological work and exploration is led by Dr Jun Kimura of Tōkai University in Tokyo. Researchers are combing and exploring the coastal waters of Iwawada, in Chiba Prefecture, western Japan.

A cannonball at a depth of over 40 metres was found by another scientist, Australian Ian McCann of the University of New England.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”We were conducting a dive in deep and dark waters. At one point Ian spotted an unusual shape on the sandy bottom. We picked up the object, but moments later we had to return as we were running out of air. So we were not able to have a good look around the area where we found the sphere,” Dr Kimura reported.[/blockquote]

Archaeologists are almost certain that the cannonball comes from the galleon “San Francisco”. This is due to the fact that it is similar to other cannonballs from that period found on Spanish merchant ships around the Philippines. However, 100% certainty will only come from chemical analyses.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”Maybe a cannonball as a find in itself is nothing spectacular, but we treat it as a clue to lead us to the right target,” said Ian McCann.”[/blockquote]

The project, subsidised by the Japanese government, is the first expedition to find the wreck of the “San Francisco”. The Spanish galleon is probably the last such wreck in the region which has not yet been plundered by treasure hunters. The estimated value of the goods carried by it may oscillate at around $80 million! The next expedition will be undertaken in 2018.

Source: bbc.com Photo: Tōkai University

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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