On Christmas Day of 1492 Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, ran aground off the northern coast of Haiti. In his journal Columbus recorded the location of the ship’s wreck, and over many, many years researchers have worked to figure out how the famed explorer’s descriptions and maps align with the coastline, and to pin down where, exactly, the ship ended its voyage. Now, The Independent is reporting that a team of archaeologists led by Barry Clifford think they’ve found the remains of the Santa Maria.
Determining whether or not the ship—first spotted by Clifford and his team in 2003—is actually the Santa Maria will take more work, but for now the evidence described by The Independent is compelling: the ship is where Clifford thought it should be, based on Columbus’ journal; the debris’ footprint is about the right size; and artifacts seen among the wreckage, like an old cannon, match those known to have been aboard the ship.
The wreck of the Santa Maria is not, as one might think, a full boat resting on the sea floor. Rather, says the Santa Maria museum in Columbus, Ohio, the grounded ship was stripped down, the wood used “to build a fortress in what Columbus called La Navidad, the first Spanish settlement.”