Christopher Columbus may have been disappointed he didn’t return from his famous voyage with all three of his ships, but probably not as much as the guy who thought he found the wreckage of the one he left behind. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released its investigative report on remains of a ship found off the coast of Haiti and determined that it’s not the Santa Maria.
Marine archaeologist Barry Clifford announced in May 2014 that he found what he thought was the wreckage of the Santa Maria off the coast of Haiti in 15 feet of water near the city of Cap-Haitein, the general area where Columbus recorded that the ship hit a reef and sank.
UNESCO sent a team to examine it and, in their report released this week, had a lot of bad news for Clifford.
Although the site is located in the general area where one would expect to find the Santa Maria based on contemporary accounts of Columbus’s first voyage, it is further away from shore than one should expect. Furthermore, and even more conclusively, the fasteners found on the site indicate a technique of ship construction that dates the ship to the late 17th or 18th century rather than the 15th or 16th century.
Also, what appears to be a protective copper sheathing found in the wreckage dates the ship as late 18th century vintage. In addition, the researchers say the coastline of Haiti has changed since 1492 due to rivers dumping sand and sediment and the Santa Maria’s remains are most likely on land by now.
Clifford is sticking by his claim, saying the researchers didn’t consult with him before launching their investigation. Perhaps the Spanish team was prejudiced because Clifford is an American.
Whatever the case, the mystery of the location of the Santa Maria continues.