Renegade Ship Buried at Sea Reveals New Clues about what was Hidden Onboard
Researchers from the Dominican Republic, Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the Peace Corps, and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis discovered the 18th-century cargo spilled by a renegade ship that purportedly carried only cocoa and a small amount of pesos. The 90-ton Nuestra Señora de Begoña was caught in a harrowing storm and ran aground in 1725. It sank, and was buried off the shore of what is now known as the Dominican Republic. Documentation following the wreck indicates the vessel probably carried smuggled treasure, hidden to avoid taxation from the Spanish crown.
“The discovery of these rare objects over the last couple of months relates directly to the testimony of sailors onboard the ship,” said Charlie Beeker, Director IU Office of Underwater Science. “The sailors testified they were sent back onboard to retrieve six Talegas (bag of coins valued at 1,000 Pesos) from under the Captain’s bed. Nine chests were taken to shore, all with false bottoms containing contraband treasure.”
The dive teams recovered two Talegas in addition to a wood bottom from a treasure chest, loaded with silver platters, plates, forks, spoons, candle holders, other yet to be identified silver objects. . Shortly after their discovery, one cluster of coins was delivered to the National underwater patrimony conservation lab in Santo Domingo, where scientists removed a thick layer of corrosion and separated some of the coins from the others. All the minted dates were prior to1725 the year the leaky Begoña in much need of repairs was sunk by high winds.
Now some of those treasures will be on display at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “This is the kind of rich history and science we want families to experience in our wet lab located inside our National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Thanks to our wonderful partnership with the people of the Dominican Republic, Indiana University and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, we are able to show how science plays a significant role in revealing fascinating stories from history and our visitors are able to speak directly to the men and women who discovered and are researching the artifacts.”
These cultural pieces are a valuable part of the Dominican Republic’s history that their government wants shared with people around the world. “We hope these artifacts will inspire people to learn about our country and the history of our forefathers. Indiana University is very professional and has worked in my country for many years, and I am happy they are willing to share this discovery in The Children’s Museum, said Francis Soto, Technical Director, Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático, “Where else would be better?”
“We are hopeful this discovery will inspire the next generation of explorers. That sense of discovery really drives archaeology and creates a sense of wonder about what might still lie beneath the sea,” said John Foster, IU Department of Anthropology and project co-Director.
This is only the beginning. These artifacts were discovered in what is considered the spillage of the 90-ton ship. While researchers have not yet discovered the Nuestra Señora de Begoña’s hull, magnetic anomaly indicate it is just 100 meters from the site being excavated.
Archival information we have gathered from Seville, Spain reveals there could be much more buried in the sand and we expect to find the ship’s hull and many more cultural artifacts, representing this significant early 18th century shipwreck in the Caribbean.” said Beeker.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndy, Facebook.com/childrensmuseum and YouTube.
Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (www.hper.indiana.edu) encompasses a broad spectrum of academic interests and professional fields. The School of HPER offers nearly 50 undergraduate and advanced degree programs through its departments of applied health science, kinesiology, environmental health, and recreation, park and tourism studies. To further its health and wellness initiative, Campus Recreational Sports provides sport and fitness services for the IU community and the public. Twitter: @IUHPER Facebook.com/hperiu
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• Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS),
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