Colombia advances in the archaeological investigation of the San José galleon, sunk off the coast of Cartagena | The six phases of the project

Colombia advances in the archaeological investigation of the San José galleon, sunk off the coast of Cartagena | The six phases of the project
Colombia advances in the archaeological investigation of the San José galleon, sunk off the coast of Cartagena | The six phases of the project

The Colombian Government declared the area where the Spanish galleon San José is located as a ‘Protected Archaeological Area of ​​the Nation’sunk by English privateers on June 8, 1708 off Cartagena de Indias and found in 2015 at a depth of more than 600 meters.

“It is the first time that an area of ​​archaeological heritage submerged at such depth has been declared, it is historic in Latin America. We already have the special plan for underwater archaeological management,” stated the Minister of Cultures of Colombia, Juan David Correa, before the presentation of the scientific investigation of the San José galleon.

With this decision, the Government seeks to recognize that in the Caribbean Sea there is a space “which will be protected by the Colombian State to guarantee the conservation and research that can be done on the wreck,” explained the general director of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (Icanh), Alhena Caicedo.

“Only archaeological sites are declared as such whose uniqueness, representativeness and the level of state of conservation in which they are found are important to guarantee the conditions of memory and identity for what heritage means,” said the official.

Therefore, he added: “An archaeological management plan will allow us to ensure that the research carried out meets all standards.”

The six phases of the project

The first phase of the project is “site imaging” where the San José is sunk with the aim of making a non-intrusive diagnosis of the area, for which remote sensors are used.

Then, with the images collected, A record will be made of the archaeological evidence of what is on the seabed to classify materials and their origin.

The third step is a “conservation prediagnosis” which is done by processing the material collected in the previous phases through a geographic information system, which will allow establishing a starting point on the level of deterioration of the identified elements.

Afterwards, an underwater research vessel will come into action that will have underwater dynamic and acoustic positioning technologies., and a remote operation vehicle equipped with various sensors and tools to descend to where the deposit is. At this point, digital documentation of the archaeological context will be carried out with photos and videos.

The fifth phase is dissemination and dissemination, which includes the scientific production of articles and participation in academic events that seek to promote the “social appropriation of the submerged cultural heritage” of Colombia.

The investigation will conclude with risk managementin which threats that may affect the archaeological context will be identified, characterized and evaluated.

The Government indicated that this entire process is in an “early” phase and no archaeological work is planned. The next steps in the process will depend on the results obtained in this stage.

A galleon in dispute

The San José, which belonged to the Spanish Navy, was sunk by a fleet of English privateers on June 8, 1708. when he 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).

Following the announcement of the discovery of the wreck Disputes arose between Colombia and Spain, since that country claims that because it is “a state ship”with its flag, is protected by UNESCO standards to claim its ownership.

The Colombian Government, which declared San José “an asset of submerged cultural interest”does not rule out collaboration with Spain to treat the wreck as shared heritage.

 
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