Buenos Aires, March 9 (IANS/EFE) An international research team has discovered new fragments of the Spanish ship La Purisima Concepcion, shipwrecked in 1765 on the coast of the southern Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego, officials said.
“The expedition found remains of wood, metal and seven cannonballs,” the provincial culture secretary, Sergio Araque, said.
The reconnaissance expedition, all on horseback, was part of the Atlantic Coast Archaeological Programme and covered 200 km of the Tierra del Fuego coastline, from Rio Grande to Cabo San Diego, in search of pre-Columbian sites and artifacts.
According to the culture secretary, the discoveries will be sent to Buenos Aires for analysis and will later be returned to Tierra del Fuego, since they are elements of the “historic and cultural heritage of the province”.
Archaeologist Dolores Elkin, a member of the expedition, announced that another research outing would be made in the future to find remains of the castaways’ campsite.
The Purisima Concepcion is famous in those latitudes for being the oldest shipwreck known in the region, and because the survivors lived peacefully for two months with the native population while building a new ship with the remains of their vessel and with local lumber.
The accident is also remembered because the construction of the new ship, which would save the survivors, was the first to be built in the southern province, according to the End of the World Museum in Ushuaia, Argentina.
In addition, the chaplain of the Spanish vessel said the first Mass on the island in the presence of the native population.
The Spanish ship, which went aground on the coast during a storm, had sailed from Cadiz with 193 men aboard and was headed for Callao, Peru, in a competition by way of Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.