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Archeologists search for Cortés’ sunken ships in Mexico

A team of specialists from INAH, UNAM, Canada, and Spain are exploring the shores of Veracruz in search of the ancient ships

Archeologists search for Cortés’ sunken ships in Mexico
Francisco Del Paso y Troncoso was a Mexican historian and Nahuatl language scholar who started an expedition in 1891 to find Cortez’s ships in Cempoala, Veracruz - Photo: Courtesy of INAH
English 22/02/2019 19:53 Antonio Díaz Mexico City Actualizada 19:53
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On April 21 or 22, 1519, Hernán Cortés disembarked in Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. His fleet consisted of 10 ships, which he sank near Mexican shores.

Nearly 500 years after the historic event, Roberto Junco Sánchez, head of the Subdirectorate of Underwater Archeology from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), along with the American archeologist Christopher Horrell, decided to start an archeological project at Villa Rica following the steps of Del Paso y Troncoso to find Cortés’s sunken ships.

Francisco Del Paso y Troncoso was a Mexican historian and Nahuatl language scholar who started an expedition in 1891 to find Cortés’s ships in Cempoala, Veracruz.

The explorer left a pair of photographs that show a man wearing a diving suit about to enter the ocean, unknowingly becoming one of the first underwater archeologists in the world.

In 2018, Roberto Junco and Christopher Horrell applied for a National Geographic grant to continue Del Paso y Troncoso’s endeavor. Once they obtained the necessary budget resources they formed a team comprised of specialists from the INAH, Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM), and experts from Canada and Spain.

Roberto Junco clarified that, as a scientist, it was not up to him to decide to whom the ships would belong to: “However, they would most likely be Mexican, since they are in national waters.”

The expert added that the team is also looking for the ships of Pánfilo de Narváez, which were also sunk a few years after Cortés near the same spot.
 

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