In some earlier blog posts, we talked about the origins and partial recovery of the Atocha shipwreck. The Atocha was a Spanish cargo ship that made stops at several ports in the Americas during the 17th century. During one fateful tour, it loaded up with an incredible amount of gold, silver, and other treasure collected from Spanish colonies. It was on its way back to Spain when it was sunk by a hurricane near the Dry Tortugas off the Florida coast. The Atocha’s cargo was so vast and valuable that it’s destruction was acutely felt in the Spanish economy, which was depending on it’s safe arrival.
Hundreds of years later, Mel Fisher earned his fame as one of the greatest treasure hunters by finding and recovering more than 40 tons of gold and silver treasures from the Atocha shipwreck. This was, however, but a portion of the Atocha’s cargo. The really valuable treasure (including religious artifacts) was kept in the ship’s stern castle, which broke off and was swept away by the hurricane. To this day, treasure hunters still search for the Atocha’s stern castle, hoping to make it big. Sometimes (but rarely), clues are found. One of which was a four-foot long gold chain.
The chain was discovered by divers working with none other than Mel Fisher. The chain is made of 55 gold links shaped like cotter pins. Attached to the chain is a two-inch long gold cross with Latin inscriptions. This religious artifact, worth more than $250,000, almost certainly came from the Atocha’s stern castle. Perhaps treasure hunters will find the entire haul sooner, rather than later.