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Colombia wants to recover the heritage of the San José Galleon

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Colombia wants to recover the heritage of the San José Galleon

The nation proposes a roadmap in order to find the mythical and incalculable heritage submerged for three centuries in El Galeón San José. This was announced at an event held this morning in Cartagena by the National Government.

The government’s plan is to carry out a rescue in several phases to find the invaluable legacy that has been in the depths of the Caribbean Sea since the 18th century.

“2024 is a very important year, it is the start year, it is a year to be able to deepen the diagnosis of the site to collect general information about the site,” said the director of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (Icanh ), Alhena Caicedo, explaining the route map of the Ministry of Cultures and the Navy for the first expedition to the wreck.

The statements by the director of Icanh were given under the international symposium ‘Challenges and perspectives in the investigation of the San José galleon’, organized by the Ministry of Cultures, held in Cartagena de Indias. There it was stated that the content that could be found from the famous Galleon is of heritage interest, as stated by the Minister of Culture, Juan David Correa.

“The remains found at 600 or more meters deep could give us more insight into what transatlantic trade in the Caribbean was like. It is time to reclaim the heritage elements for which the remains of the galleon should be valued. History is the treasure,” Correa said.

These statements reveal that the value of the boat would be a forceful step to understand the ways of life, customs and perspectives that were held at that time in history about the functions of man. Caicedo follows the same line as Correo and classifies it as a mission for archaeological purposes that could open the panorama of history, expanding the common facets that have survived to this day.

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The tragic story of the Galleon

The San José, built in 1698 in Guipúzcoa (Spain) and belonging to the Spanish Navy, had a short life because just ten years later, on June 8, 1708, it was sunk by a fleet of English privateers when it was heading to Cartagena. de Indias loaded, according to chronicles of the time, with nearly 11 million eight-escudo coins in gold and silver that he had collected at the Portobelo fair (Panama).

Due to its valuable cargo, which was taken to the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, at a depth of more than 600 meters, near the Rosario Islands, the story of the San José has fueled the imagination of sailors, underwater archaeologists and adventurers who, mainly in In the last years of the 20th century, they became interested in finding the remains of the shipwreck.

Agreements with Spain to protect heritage

In 2015 the Navy announced that it had found the wreck, reviving interest in the ship. But that announcement also revived old disputes over the vessel. Spain claimed ownership protected by UNESCO regulations, because at that time what is now Colombia was part of the Spanish empire and the ship carried the flag of that country. Due to the above, the Spanish ambassador in Colombia proposed to the National Government a cooperation agreement for the protection of submerged heritage.

This agreement, added the ambassador, could have the collaboration of “international organizations specialized in the matter, such as UNESCO, to create a new reference, a new paradigm in terms of protection of underwater heritage.”

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According to the roadmap presented today, the expedition to San José, which will possibly take place in the second half of the year, includes “procedures to take samples for analysis of the behavior of materials and general information that we require for the formulation of the archaeological management plan and the promulgation of the protected archaeological area.

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