HISTORY® and October Films have secured exclusive rights to the marine investigators exploring what is believed to be the site of the world’s most famous shipwreck – the Santa Maria. The HISTORY sponsored expedition will be made into a television event to premiere at a later date, it was announced today by Dirk Hoogstra, Executive Vice President and General Manger, HISTORY & H2.
More than five centuries after Columbus’ flagship was wrecked in the Caribbean, an archaeological team led by renowned maritime investigator Barry Clifford believes they have located the famous vessel’s long lost remains off the coast of Haiti. Now, Clifford, supported by HISTORY, is planning to carry out further investigations in the coming months to prove that the ship they found is indeed the Santa Maria.
“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggest that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship,” Clifford said. “I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America.”
The Santa Maria was built in the second half of the 15th century and was used in 1492 by Columbus as he sailed across the Atlantic in search of a new western route to Asia. On Christmas Eve in 1492, a cabin boy, after the rest of the crew fell asleep, crashed the ship on a coral reef off the northern coast of Haiti. Columbus, who was on board, wrote about the wreck and the aftermath in his journal, but the Santa Maria’s final resting place had been lost through time and has remained a mystery for centuries.
“We’re excited to partner with October Films on what could be the discovery of the century,” said Hoogsta, “Its not everyday where we get an opportunity to be a part of a potential history defining expedition. We look forward to telling the story of the Santa Maria and seeing what Barry Clifford uncovers.”
“HISTORY is the perfect partner for something as enormously exciting as this discovery,” said Adam Bullmore, Creative Director, October Films, “They were able to see the potential importance of the project and got behind it right away. Now it’s just a question of holding our nerve while the archaeological experts do their job.”
Clifford used two pieces of historical information to close in on the Santa Maria. After archaeologist found new evidence suggesting where Columbus built his fort on Haiti after the ship’s crash, Clifford crosschecked this information with Columbus’ diary to narrow down a possible resting place. As it turns out, Clifford and his team were lead back to a site they had visited back in 2003. However, they didn’t realize what they had at the time.
Photographic evidence from their 2003 dive show artifacts that date the ship to the Columbus era. However some of these artifacts, including a cannon, have since been looted. As it stands now, the ship is consistent with the likely dimensions of the Santa Maria, matching its known footprint almost exactly. The ocean topography is also a direct match based on historical knowledge of the site and even the stones used in the ship’s ballast match the kind of stones that are found in the part of Spain where the ship was built.
Clifford has investigated more than 400 seabed anomalies off the north coast of Haiti using sophisticated metal detectors and sonar scans before zeroing in on this site. Further expeditions will be made in the near future to find further evidence to support his claim.
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