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The 10 Most Valuable Shipwrecks Ever Discovered

 Over the millennia, many ships have been lost to the depths of the ocean. It’s estimated that there could be up to 3 million shipwrecks scattered across the floors of the world’s oceans, holding treasure that could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. As a result, perhaps it’s no surprise that they are hugely attractive to underwater archaeologists and treasure hunters around the globe. Here are the 10 most valuable shipwrecks ever discovered:
 
10. The Salcombe Shipwreck (Still being valued)
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This wreck was only discovered as recently as 2010, and is remarkable thanks to its age – it’s believed to have sunk between 3,200 and 2,900 years ago. Although only 185 lbs of weapons, jewelry and tin and copper ingots were found, the lack of volume is made up for by the wreck’s historical significance. This is because it proves the existence of a trade network between Britain and continental Europe during the Bronze Age.


9. The Belitung Shipwreck ($80 million)

Discovered off the coast of Indonesia’s Belitung Island by a fisherman in 1998, this wreck marks the very first time that an ancient Arabian ship was discovered in the depths. Excavators discovered an assortment of spice jars, funeral urns, inkwells, gilt-silver boxes, bowls and crystals, together with rubies and sapphires. The largest gold cup ever found was also present in the wreck. The cargo is owned by the Singaporean government.


8. The Ship of Gold ($100-150 million)
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The SS Central America sank in 1857, with 15 tons of gold on board. The loss of so much gold was so devastating that it contributed to Americans losing faith in the US economy, causing the Panic of 1857. This marked the very first time that the world experienced a global economic crisis. Following the discovery of the wreck, a legal battle ensued, but the discovery team was eventually awarded 92% of the gold.

7. The Antikythera Treasures ($120-160 million)

Located off the north-western tip of the Greek island of Crete, this shipwreck prompted the world’s first major underwater archaeological expedition. It was discovered in 1900 by Greek sponge divers, but the most significant find from the wreck wasn’t made until 1976. The Antikythera mechanism is believed to be the world’s oldest analog computer, and baffles scientists to this day. Other amazing discoveries found on this wreck include pottery, glassware, jewelry, statues, coins and copper couch beds.
 
6. Treasure of the S.S. Republic ($120-180 million)
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A popular deep sea salvage and exploration by the name of Odyssey came across this shipwreck in 2003. The SS Republic was a sidewheel steamer underway from Georgia to New Orleans in 1865 when she was lost in a hurricane. Her discovery yielded almost 14,000 artifacts and more than 51,000 US silver and gold coins, and that’s without mentioning thousands of glasses, bottles and other stoneware containers that were recovered.

5. The Diamond Shipwreck (Still being valued)

No scuba gear was required for the discovery of this wreck, and that’s because it was discovered by a team of geologists working for the De Beers mining company. It’s believed to be the wreck of the Bom Jesus, a Portuguese ship that was on its way to India in 1533. Some 22 gold ingots have been unearthed, as have six cannons, swords, 50 elephant tusks and thousands of gold coins.

 
4. The British Treasury Ship ($200 million)
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The SS Garisoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1941, with an enormous cargo on board. No less than 7 million ounces of silver sank to the depths, and to date, some 48 tons of the ship’s cargo has been recovered. Odyssey Marine Exploration was given the responsibility to excavate the wreck, with 80% of the cargo going to the company, and the remaining 20% being given to the UK Department of Transport.

3. The Whydah Gally ($400 million)

This former slave ship was captured by a notorious pirate by the name of Black Sam Bellamy. She was wrecked in 1717, when she was caught in a violent storm. She was discovered more than 250 years later. Over 30 years after her discovery in 1984, treasures are still being recovered. To date, more than 200,000 artifacts ranging from gold jewelry, to coins and cannons, have been surfaced.

2. The Atocha Motherlode ($450 million)

Located in July 1985, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha was carrying such a large cargo when she sank that it apparently took two months to load it before she set sail. She went down off the Florida Keys in 1622, with tens of tons of gold, copper, silver, indigo and jewels on board. Some of the jewels recovered included Muzo emeralds, which are the world’s finest. The man who discovered it, Mel Fisher, was awarded 75% of the cargo’s value by the US Supreme Court. Talk about the find of a lifetime!

1. The Black Swan Project ($500 million)

This particular shipwreck is mired in mystery, and information about it was kept under wraps deliberately due to the sheer size of the find. It’s not even known for certain which shipwreck was discovered, but it is believed to be that of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, which was sunk by the British in 1804. The company that discovered it, Odyssey Marine Exploration, got to keep some 500,000 gold coins recovered from the wreck, whereas the rest of the treasure was claimed by the Spanish government following a lengthy legal battle.

 

Content source: The Richest
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4
Cover image by Deposit Photos

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