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Sunken jewels, buried treasure uncovered in the Bahamas from iconic 17th century Spanish shipwreck

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A treasure trove of jewels, medallions and historic artifacts has been uncovered in the Bahamas that date back to the legendary 17th century Maravillas shipwreck — and the public can now get a look at it.

Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders), a two-deck Spanish galleon, sank on Jan. 4, 1656, off the Little Bahama Bank in the northern Bahamas on a trip to Seville from Cuba. 

It had been carrying numerous treasures of both royal tax and private property.

The 891-ton ship went down after colliding with its fleet flagship. 

It struck a reef 30 minutes later — and ultimately sank.

The remains of the vessel were scattered for several miles across the ocean, with no significant portion of the ship left behind.

For more than 360 years, archeologists and adventurers have attempted to locate the debris that was lost in the wreckage.

Allen Exploration has been pulling out pieces of the treasure since 2020.
Allen Exploration

And while much of the treasure — an estimated 3.5 million pieces, out of eight — was salvaged between 1656 and the early 1990s, modern-day technology tools such as high-resolution magnetometers, enhanced GPS and metal detecting have allowed Allen Exploration to bring to the surface riches beyond the imagination.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Allen Exploration founder Carl Allen said that he and his team began pulling up precious artifacts in July 2020 near Walker’s Cay.

High-tech tools, plus the official permission they received from the Bahamanian government to search the Northern Bahamas area — known to be a wreckage hotspot — have made for “quite amazing” discoveries, the entrepreneur said.

“We’ve recovered thousands of artifacts,” he said.

“Cannons, anchors, emeralds and amethysts … We’re up to about 3,000 silver coins and 25 gold coins,” he said.

Man holding gold coin.
Allen Exploration used high-tech tools to locate and pull the riches out of the water.
Allen Exploration

The water in the area only reaches up to 50 feet deep, while the sand can bury treasures down to 20 feet, he revealed.

Yet that didn’t stop Allen from proving his doubters wrong and discovering treasures that took his breath away.

“When I pulled up the first valuable item, I lost my breath,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

“I’ve been thinking about this my whole life.”

The fascinating finds also include Spanish olive jars, Chinese porcelain and iron rigging, according to an AllenX press release.

The team also discovered a silver sword handle belonging to the soldier Don Martin de Aranda y Gusmán; the item helped the teams identify these treasures as belonging to the sunken Maravillas.

Four pendants worn by members of the sacred Order of Santiago, a religious band of knights active in Spanish maritime trade, were also recovered.

The finding of the Maravillas reflects an “amazing leap” in technology.
Allen Exploration

AllenX considered the Order of Santiago jewels to be the “star” finds thus far.

One golden pendant with the Cross of Santiago was designed in the shape of a scallop shell.

It’s reinforced by what appears to be an Indian bezoar stone — a famous European stone known for its healing properties.

Another golden pendant garners the same cross overlaying a large, ovular Columbian emerald.

Three gold chains were retrieved, including an 887-gram gold filigree chain made up of 80 circular links and decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs, most likely crafted in the Philippines, the group said.

AllenX indicated that no exact replicas of the chain exist from other excavations in museum collections or as seen in Spanish portrait art. 

Allen Exploration archeologist Jim Sinclair told Fox News Digital that these artifacts reveal how people lived in the colonial period and in the New World.

As an archeologist of 40 years, and as an original explorer of iconic wrecks such as the Titanic, Sinclair said a recovery such as the one from the Maravillas reflects an “amazing leap” in technology.

The archeologist also considered the artifact analysis to be a “really good development” in terms of detecting human behavior and history.

Although the worth of these artifacts most likely add up to the millions of dollars, the items are priceless, said Bill Springer, Allen Exploration spokesperson.

None of the Allen Exploration findings will be put up for auction or for sale.

Divers looking for treasure.
The findings will be put on display at a museum.
Allen Exploration

Instead, the finds will become part of an exhibit at Allen Exploration’s Bahamas Maritime Museum, located at the Port Lucaya Marketplace in Freeport.

The museum is set to open on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. 

It will reveal other exhibits about maritime history in the Bahamas, as well as the transatlantic slave trade and the Lucayan people.

Only 45 survivors

The Maravillas exhibit also showcases the story of the ship’s demise.

Of the nearly 650 passengers who were on board the ship, only 45 are known to have survived. 

No human remains have been located.

The shipwreck was a “tremendous blow,” Allen explained, since Spain at the time was struggling financially and the boat was jam-packed with valuables.

It was one of the largest treasure ships to have ever left the Indies — which is why Allen said he expects more artifacts to be uncovered still.

The “mother lode” has yet to be discovered, he indicated; and when it is, he said the haul would be “extremely valuable.”

“The manifest usually on these old ships, a lot of times — it was only about half of what was on the ship because there was so much contraband,” he said. 

“So, that’s what’s exciting.”

Along with launching the museum, Allen is furthering his passion for discovery and education by developing underwater archeology programs for Bahamian kids.

“The big problem is, [the debris] is not going to stay there forever,” he said.

“And it’s a playground of shipwreck.” 

“So, I created a path for other people to do this — and I welcome it.”

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Five State Parks to Visit This Winter

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California is home to 279 state parks, which cover more than a million acres combined and stretch from 230 feet below sea level at the Salton Sea to more than 10,000 feet above at the snowy San Jacinto Peak. The state park system, the biggest in the nation, preserves impressive waterfalls and wildlife reserves, some of the world’s largest trees and the state’s most stunning flowers.

Today I have some recommendations for state parks to visit in the winter, no matter what sort of vacation you’re craving. And you can now check out free vehicle day-use passes for most of California’s state parks from your local library.

Happy traveling.

Roughly 20 miles north of Santa Cruz, Año Nuevo State Park is one of the few places in North America where you can see elephant seals up close. The massive animals, each about the size of an S.U.V., can be viewed at the park year-round, but winter tends to be the busiest and most exciting season, as it’s when the pups are born.

From December through March, the seals come ashore to mate, give birth and nurse their young. Park docents offer guided walks starting on Dec. 15 and continuing every day until March 31, with the exception of Dec. 25. Read more about reserving a tour.

About 90 miles southeast of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the city of Columbia was once the second largest in California. Between 1850 and 1880, more than a billion dollars’ worth of gold was mined in the area. And in 1945, the State Legislature designated the site the Columbia State Historic Park so that a typical gold rush town could be preserved.

During the holiday season, visitors to the park can watch confectioners make giant handmade candy canes and can enjoy special events, including a Los Posadas Nativity procession and a Christmas equestrian parade.

Though spring is typically the best time to catch its famous wildflower blooms, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a lovely place to visit in the winter. The largest state park in California, it offers miles of hiking trails, sweeping vistas of the rugged Borrego Badlands, excellent stargazing and “an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California desert,” said Jorge Moreno, a state parks department spokesman.

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park is 2,000 acres of dense pine, fir, aspen and cedar forest along the quiet western shores of Lake Tahoe. Winter visitors to Sugar Pine Point can camp in the snow and explore miles of marked cross-country skiing trails.

Thirty miles south of Redding, William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park is a memorial to William B. Ide, a leader of the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt against Mexican control of California. The park features an old adobe home, blacksmith shop and other historic sites, which can be toured on the weekends. The park’s annual Pioneer Christmas Party, which recreates the settlers’ earliest holiday celebrations, will take place this year on Dec. 17.

Today’s tip comes from Lyn Allred, who recommends the town of Cambria on the Central Coast:

“Right on the ocean, the peaceful wooden path has gorgeous vistas and benches on which to contemplate life. Hotels line the street across from the ocean and the quaint Old Cambria is a quick drive east. Be sure to stop by Linn’s for some yummy treats. Many hotels will welcome your dog, too.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.


Have you visited any of the travel destinations that we’ve recommended in the newsletter? Send us a few lines about your trip, and a photo!

We’d like to share them in upcoming editions of the newsletter. Email us at CAToday@nytimes.com. Please include your name and the city in which you live


The Times recently asked readers to tell us what they were thankful for this year, in fewer than 100 words. The responses touched on large moments of gratitude, like a lifesaving drug or the birth of a child, as well as the mundane joys of life, like ice cream and exercise.

Here’s a sweet one from Annalisa McMorrow, 53, who lives in Point Reyes Station:

“A tiny record store opened up in our tiny Northern California town. I am a vinyl junkie and immediately became a regular. Now, one of the owners knows my tastes so well, he’ll text me randomly: “Mule Variations and Swordfishtrombones. Interested?” I’m the round-the-clock caregiver for my disabled husband. The owners hold the LPs for me until I can make it in. Their store is a bright spot of promise and nostalgia in a life that can be sad.”


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Briana Scalia and Maia Coleman contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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Slain Idaho student Madison Mogen’s stepdad speaks out: ‘We’re angry’

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The devastated stepfather of Madison Mogen, one of the four slain University of Idaho students, described her death as “the hardest thing in the world” — as he shared his frustration in the lack of progress in the case.

“It’s still hard to believe sometimes. We get up in the morning, and it’s like, ‘Nah this isn’t happening,’ then it kicks in,” Scott Laramie told Fox News Digital on Monday.

The 21-year-old student known as Maddie, her close friend Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were butchered in the off-campus home in Moscow on Nov. 13.

Authorities have not yet named a suspect or found the knife used in the massacre that has left the community reeling.

Laramie said police told him they have no leads nearly three weeks after the shocking crime.

Jake Schriger and his girlfriend Maddie Mogen, one of the four slain University of Idaho students.
maddiemogen/Instagram

“They update us every day. We asked them to check in with us whether they have anything or not,” he told the outlet, as he lamented the agonizing lack of progress in the probe.

“We’re angry. Anybody would be,” he said. “I’m just hoping they come up with something sooner than later. I just would like to have justice for these kids.”

Maddie was raised by Laramie — whom she called dad — and her mother Karen Laramie in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Slain Idaho students
Slain University of Idaho students Ethan Chapin, 20, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kaylee Goncalves, 21.

“We love her and we miss her, and it’s the hardest thing in the world to try to figure out how to live without her,” a tearful Laramie told the news outlet.

“It’s the hardest thing to imagine right now,” he added.

On Friday, Mogen’s boyfriend, Jake Schriger, also broke his silence about losing her.


Here’s the latest coverage on the brutal killings of four college friends:


“She was the first person I talked to every morning and the last person I talked to before bed,” Schriger said at a vigil held in Post Falls, Idaho. “She was the person that I loved most.”

Laramie told Fox News Digital that he has been in touch with Schriger.

“He’s all broken up. He’s having a hard time dealing with this too. Those two, they were really good together. They really clicked,” he said.

The house where the slain roommates lived.
The four roommates shared the house with two others who were unharmed.

The scene of the Univ. of Idaho murders.
Cops have not named a suspect in the murders.

Investigators on scene of murders.
Investigators have not recovered a murder weapon.

Blood seeps through wall of murder house
Blood seeped through the exterior wall of the home.

Madison Mogen
Madison’s family has been left shattered by the shocking murders.

flyer seeking information
Authorities have not yet named a suspect or found the knife used in the massacre that has left the community reeling.

Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves.
Madison and Kaylee were close friends, according to their families.

Maddie adored all things pink and sparkly and loved rewatching the 1987 flick “The Princess Bride,” Laramie told the outlet.

“Everybody just wanted to be near her,” he said. “She had the world at her fingertips, and could have done anything she wanted to do. We were just so proud of her.”

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China’s Xi to Visit Saudi Arabia for Regional Summits

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — China’s leader will travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a flurry of summits bringing together heads of state from across the Middle East, a region where longtime American allies are growing increasingly closer to China.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, will visit the kingdom for three days and attend Saudi-China, Gulf-China and Arab-China summits, the Saudi state news agency reported on Tuesday. More than 30 heads of states and leaders of international organizations plan to attend, the report said, adding that Saudi Arabia and China were expected to sign a “strategic partnership.”

Mr. Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia is aimed at deepening China’s decades-old ties with the Gulf region, which started narrowly as a bid to secure oil, and have since developed into a complex relationship involving arms sales, technology transfers and infrastructure projects.

The Chinese leader is expected to sign a flurry of contracts with the Saudi government and other Gulf States, sending a message that Beijing’s clout in the region is growing at a time when Washington has pulled away from the Middle East to devote more attention to Asia.

The grand state visit will inevitably draw comparisons to Donald J. Trump’s arrival in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for his first trip abroad as president in 2017. He was greeted by streets decorated with American flags and an enormous image of his face projected on the side of a building.

Saudi Arabia has been a close American ally for more than half a century. But its authoritarian rulers have long sought to deepen other alliances to prepare for an emerging multipolar world.

U.S.-Saudi ties have been especially fractious over the past few years, with the administration of President Biden declaring a “recalibration” of the relationship and pressing the kingdom over human rights violations, including the 2018 murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — a Saudi citizen and U.S. resident at the time — by Saudi agents in Istanbul.

“Xi clearly wants to make a statement at a moment at which the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is strained,” said James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“It’s a good moment to replant the flag, if you wish. And I think it’s a good moment for the Gulf States to say, ‘Hey, we have other options. Washington, you’re not the only ones out there.’”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Vivian Nereim reported from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and David Pierson from Singapore.

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