UNESCO Report Sheds Doubt on Authenticity of Columbus Ship Discovery

The report, released just in time for Columbus Day, rules out explorer Barry Clifford’s finding but he stands by his research

Flickr/Rich Jacques

Replica of Christopher Columbus’s flag ship

Explorer Barry Clifford's claim to have found the long-lost Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship from his first voyage to the Americas, has been dismissed by a group of U.N. experts (see EN, June 2014). A team from the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO said in a report earlier this month that bronze or copper fasteners found at the site point to shipbuilding techniques of the late 17th or 18th centuries, when ships were covered in copper. Before that, fasteners were made only of wood or iron, it said.

When reached by EN, Clifford said he stands by his discovery. He told us the UNESCO finding was politically motivated. He confirmed the accuracy of the UK's Independent newspaper, which identified a number of flaws in the UNESCO study.

Said Clifford, "Having spent more than ten years investigating the shipwreck in question, surveying over 550 lineal miles within the Bay of Cap Haitian, and identifying and eliminating over 430 magnetic anomalies, I completely endorse the assessment of Professor Charles D. Beeker, Ph.D., that the 'Lombard Wreck site' is the best candidate to date for the Santa Maria.  

"To this end, it is essential that UNESCO investigate the entire area where the lombards were discovered, photographed and drawn in situ.

"I would be delighted to assist UNESCO and look forward to them getting in touch with me to review our photographs, drawings and survey records," Clifford said. 

"The lombards are the smoking guns and, in my view, the most important pieces of evidence in the search for the Santa Maria."

The story, written by David Keys, the Independent's archaeological correspondent, can be found here.


The above story originally appeared in Expedition News.

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