UNESCO examines wreck off Haiti’s coast, believed to be remains of Santa Maria


PARIS, France, Monday September 22, 2014, CMC – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says the remains of a Haitian shipwreck, believed to be the lost remains of the Santa Maria – the flagship of Christopher Columbus, requires further investigation.

A UNESCO team led by the former head of the Spanish National Museum on Underwater Archaeology, Xavier Nieto Prieto, recently examined the wreck off Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti and collected samples as part of the investigation.

The wreck was first discovered by explorer Barry Clifford, who earlier this year alerted Haitian authorities.

Clifford then said he was certain that the “Holy Grail” of shipwrecks had been found but needed to investigate further.

However, Clifford and Charles Beeker, a leading maritime archaeologist and director of Indiana University’s (IU) underwater science program, were rejected by UNESCO’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Body.

Ulrike Guerin, who is responsible for underwater cultural heritage issues at UNESCO, said the two were rejected on several grounds, including a lack of scientific background, proof of available funds and competence.

In response, Beeker said the decision made no sense given that he and Indiana University were endorsed by UNESCO to document Columbus artifacts at La Isabela, Dominican Republic.

The Miami Herald reports that as part of its scrutiny, the UNESCO team recovered samples of diagnostic artifacts to date the site and investigated other nearby shipwrecks.

“The evidence collected concerning the location, nature and artifact content will now be subjected to thorough investigation by an acclaimed team of experts,” UNESCO said.

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