Treasure Quest

Article: Wired on treasure hunting

The HMS Sussex was a British vessel lost in a storm off Gibraltar in 1694, carrying a ridiculous quantity of gold bullion. It was lost in about 1,000 metres of water, and the treasure has not been recovered.

In 2004 Wired Magazine published an article detailing the intentions of a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration to search for the HMS Sussex and recover the loot it was carrying with the help of robots known as ROVs (remotely operated vehicles).

The activities of the company have been viewed with suspicion and disparagement by various parties who believe that the goal is treasure hunting rather than respecting archaeological sites – a fair accusation, from what I have read. Treasure hunting is big business – check out the Odyssey Marine Exploration website to get a feel for the kind of sums of money involved.

The Wired article is available here in full.

As a postscript, it appears that after running into trouble with the Spanish government, who were concerned that the ship they identified was a Spanish galleon and not the British ship, Odyssey went ahead and recovered a large number of coins from what was probably a number of different colonial-era ships (the area was notorious for shipwrecks at that time). According to the Odyssey website, the HMS Sussex project has been put on hold pending resolution of various diplomatic issues. A preliminary report (PDF) has however been released.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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