An Anchor To History: A Remarkable Treasure Find Off Turks and Caicos

A remarkable treasure has recently been discovered in the Caribbean ocean—it is a centuries-old anchor that most likely originated from one of Christopher Columbus’ ships. Remember those ships from your history lessons—the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria?

Divers found the anchor off the islands of Turks and Caicos, and interestingly, an American astronaut was involved in creating the treasure map used to locate the remarkable find. Darrell Miklos is an expert in discovery of historical shipwrecks; he led the expedition in search of the lost Caribbean ships.

Miklos is certain the anchor belonged to Columbus; he was friends with the late NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper, who gave Miklos a “space treasure map” to help him locate a number of shipwreck sites in the Caribbean. Cooper created the map after his Mercury 9 flight—a map that more than likely was made to map Soviet and Cuban nuclear sites from space. Cooper died of Parkinson’s disease over 10 years ago, in 2004, but Miklos always held onto the map.

Using Cooper’s details, Miklos led an expert crew who subsequently identified five wreck sites that contained ships from the colonial period. Once the team arrived in Turks and Caicos, a magnetometer was used to more closely identify the shipwrecked areas. The team then did a dive to take a closer look, and they took a metal detector down with them.

Scientists estimate that the anchor dates back to the 1492 to 1550 era. The anchor is huge—weighing in at nearly 1,500 pounds–indicating that it was a bower anchor used on a 300-ton vessel—just the right size for one of the ships from Columbus’ era.

The team found a literal treasure chest of other artifacts, including grappling hooks used during that time period for salvaging items from sunken ships. Pottery and an indigo-painted olive jar were also found, and both had markings and indications that they were of Spanish origin. Additionally, a pot originating from Majorca, and island off the coast of Spain, was found and also dates to the same time period of 1492-1500. Iron and bronze spikes were also found that are likely the last remaining vestiges of the wrecked ships.

The story of the shipwreck is an interesting one that involves two brothers.

Vicente Yanez Pinzon and Martin Alonso Pinzon were both Spanish sailors and both were part of Columbus’ famous 1492 voyage. In fact, each was a ship captain—Martin was captain of the Pinta and Vicente was captain of the Nina.

Columbus made his third voyage six years later in 1498. Vicente wasn’t part of that expedition but he did set sail around the same time from Spain on another mission that included four ships, all smaller sailing ships called Caravels. And the Pinta was one of them!

Vicente Pinzon is actually credited in history with the discovery of Brazil as well as the Amazon River in 1499 and 1500.

Pinzon actual met up with Columbus in Haiti in 1500 to tell him the good news of the discovery of Brazil before sailing back to Spain with the four ships. In July of 1500, on the journey back to Spain, the four ships were anchored off Turks and Caicos and were caught in a hurricane. Two ships were wrecked. He made it back to Spain sailing in the other two ships, and returned in 1502 to Turks and Caicos to attempt recovery of as much salvage cargo as possible from the sunken ships.

Archaeologists also think that a broken anchor ring found at the shipwreck most likely came from Pinzon’s third ship; there are written historical accounts that say the ship came loose from its anchor during the 1500 hurricane.

Discovery Channel has dedicated an entire episode to the amazing find in an episode of “Cooper’s Treasure.” A Discovery Channel spokesperson said this of Cooper’s map: “It means that we now have one of the most valuable maps in history. Ships wreck in a way that they leave a trail, so the anchor is pointing to more artifacts and treasure to be found.”

Miklos said: “I am telling you, stick around, this is just the beginning of an amazing story.”

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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