This Spanish treasure ship is believed to hold an estimated $20 billion worth of valuables, making it one of the richest shipwrecks ever found.

The San José galleon was carrying a vast amount of treasure to the Spanish king to fund his war against Britain when it was attacked. Tragically, nearly 600 crew members perished with the ship.

Colombia's Institute of Anthropology and History is leading the first phase of research, known as the "characterization phase." This involves using remote sensors and underwater robots to map the site and catalog the archaeological materials on the seabed. These findings will guide future academic studies and subsequent exploration phases.

The project, titled "Towards the Heart of the San José Galleon," aims to preserve the site due to its significant scientific and heritage value. Juan David Correa, Colombia's culture minister, called the expedition "unprecedented."

Since its discovery in 2015, the San José wreck has been at the center of legal battles over its ownership. Both the US salvage company Sea Search Armada and Spain have laid claims to the treasure.

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For now, the Colombian government has no plans for archaeological excavations during this initial stage, focusing instead on studying and protecting the site.

Editor: Kemal Can Kayar