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TOPIC: The Discovery of the Incarnation

The Discovery of the Incarnation 4 years 10 months ago #16058

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The first globalization occurred in the sixteenth century and was the work of Spanish and Portuguese sailors, who opened and maintained the first trade routes that had traveled around the world. From all we know of that time left the keys that have to do with precisely the machines that made ​​possible that globalization effort, held for more than three centuries. No ships there would be Hispanic, yet our country has seriously neglected the need to know this history.


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Frederick Hanselmann diving on the wreck of the Incarnation

The remains of the old galleons, more accessible technology, explain better than any other item details birth of our world view , which was the first global, which is made ​​to be as our nation and our culture. Each boat is a time capsule, precious and sealed, waiting for scientists to extract all the information stored.

However, the governance model of underwater archaeology did not want to hear any talk about that story. By inaction and neglect, what we have left to the treasure hunters industry, destroying fields and raises the modern version of the black legend fueled by our dark pessimism.

Mixed Culture and Society Advanced

Shipped with the legendary treasures and the most colorful outfits, lest we forget, was also one mixed culture society, advanced on universal values, science, language and culture, whose exponents, those Spaniards of both sides of the Atlantic, members of the Navy or simple travelers, nobles or poor, died together in tragic shipwrecks and battles muzzle and approach, while contributing to change history. His remains are waiting to attend our memory.

The finding of a freighter sunk off the coast of Panama, belonging to the fleet punished Indies 1681, it has been one of the most important news for the Spanish heritage of the past few months, and so far we have not been able to study scientifically any ship like this. Unfortunately, there has nothing about this discovery in Spain by archaeologists from Texas State University, the remains of a boat with hundreds of stacked containers, as they were 334 years ago, full of edged swords and all kinds of everyday objects. Keep a unique and accurate picture of Spanish society of the time, economy, values ​​and beliefs, as we shall see. Archaeological science is the only tool able to read the missing pages of the history of Spain at the time it was global.

The "Incarnation"

The discovery of the freighter Our Lady of the Incarnation took place at the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama, by chance, Archaeologists led by Frederick Hanselmann in 2010 sought the remains of the flotilla of pirate Henry Morgan, sunk as he was preparing to attack the capital. It is an area covered by the mud in which, suddenly, his magnetometers indicated that under the mud there was something big. This year they have revealed the true extent of the finding. Over several campaigns, the international team has documented remains of 30 ships, nothing less.

ABC Cultural Hanselmann confesses that, while diving on the remains of Incarnation he could not "stop feeling a reverential respect for the people who perished on the ship, in addition to the chill that archaeologists feel when they physically interact with traces of history that nobody he has played before. Last reaches you, is very exciting." That story is the real treasure for himself and regain complete is the privilege of the archaeologist.

At the same time, project historian Jose Manuel Espinosa, a Spanish Ecija who teaches at the University of Northern Colombia has failed to demonstrate the identity of the ship. It is that of the Incarnation, known more briefly by his nickname: the Chaperone. As in the documents found in the archives of Indians, showing that it was built in Campeche and carried a crew of 44 people. As transport today was loaded with hundreds of containers. It was one of 24 ships that made ​​the ill-fated 1681 fleet, which was lost in December of that year in tragic circumstances and that just might save a small portion of the load. For Espinosa, for any historian, "is a blessing all the paperwork that the Spanish Crown produced when the loss of life and property caused a process "against those responsible for the fleet.

Capital punishment

The 1681 Juan Antonio Vicente was in command and Toledo, Marquis de Brenes, commander in chief of the Navy of the Carrera de las Indias, and had arrived in Cartagena on April 2, 1681. After waiting several months, storms, losses and wrecks, arrived in Panama on November 3. What was left of the fleet would not come to Cadiz until September next year.

Therefore, the Marquis de Brenes was opened a process in which he called for the death penalty. Loss of ships and property of the king and traders was something very serious and in this case he was accused of contravening the order to return as soon as possible given by the monarch, and other breaches and inattention of the fleet. The charges ended in exile of the Court and Seville’s the fine of 10,000 pesos of silver to pay the costs.

The files

Documents the entire process, fraught with testimonials and statements about shipwrecks in court, have been vital to prove the identity of the ship: "Allow reconstruction of the journey of the fleet”, almost every day points out the historian. In the lawsuit the scale of values ​​is reflected, social networks, the interests at stake, even the belief system."

There are also business records detailing cargo, crew, insurance and travelers, because every ship needed a record to its input and output ports. The Chaperone carrying consumer goods: textiles, hardware, flour, oil, wine, liquor, and many ornamental and everyday products, books, crockery and hardware, Hanselmann said that the peculiarity of this cargo is telling the story of citizens’ means in the colonial era. "We know a lot of the great figures of history, but rarely have a window like this for the life of the average settler in the most cosmopolitan cities in America at the time "Not everyone could afford clothes or dishes brought from Europe Cartuja."Creole upper classes had high purchasing power," Espinosa added.

Disclosure is important

Historian regrets that he is associated with a shipwreck treasures and pirates, because "we have not done our job of disclosure'. Hanselmann goes further: "We have to win the account. If we do our job well, the public will never know what is the difference between the archaeologist and treasure hunter? "Wise words for anyone who is on the ground to make a difference. "To what extent can we blame a guy selling a gun for $4,000 if you do not to tell the story and you have and convince him that if he can create a tourist route, smiling gringos will always be willing to pay at least $ 50 per dive with its history? That in a week can easily earn $1,500. If the piece he sells only manages payment and loses its cultural richness, "he adds.

The Panamanian international project director, Tomas Mendizabal, stresses that it is the first time that his country deals with a scientific excavation of this caliber. "We investigate the past through the figure of Henry Morgan, for better or for worse the most famous person in our history. The discovery of the Incarnation was a happy accident, surprise typical archaeological exploration. "The Patron to Panama Viejo has been implicated for the storage of samples is made ​​with the highest standards." It is an excellent example of international cooperation and would be an ideal for which Spain would join efforts to study and conserve sites like this as part of his History occasion."

The Incarnation event is so important because Panama is also a country ravaged by plague of treasure hunters and has made ​​headlines in recent months for what happened on the Pacific coast, where the company IMDI has plundered the galleon San Jose , wrecked in 1631 , relying on a contract the previous government, making it impossible for valid because Panama was the first country to ratify the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which expressly prohibits marketing. Sunday concluded the first part of a mission of the international organization in Panama for the annulment of the contract. It has been led by Spanish archaeologist Xavier Nieto, but there are no conclusions. In both cases, Panama today summarizes the problems of absence from the Spanish public archeology, sometimes not being informed or consulted in these cases.

Spain not excavated

Why? It's hard to recognize that our country has experienced back its naval history of modern times. And blind to the value of this heritage. There has not been a single project planned or encouraged by any Spanish government, nor has promoted similar to the Incarnation project to study one galleon , ship of the Indies, boat Lepanto, Trafalgar or the Grand Army, to name just a few milestones that so little known history. There are excellent Spanish archaeologists, who have had to strive to achieve a meager support from administrations. And only they have been researched and published wrecks of antiquity. That is the only narrative that has managed to develop with great credit the nation that invented the ocean navigation. And is insufficient, such country.

Spain does not cave, despite having significant wrecks for the history of humanity in all seas. All countries that were former colonial powers have constructed a narrative that includes naval history. The Mary Rose, the ship of Henry VIII, Britain, Sweden or the Vasa is two egregious examples. Sweden looks with Johan Rönnby and excavation of Mars to unpublished data on the birth of the nation state and its Swedish naval hegemony. In Spain the time is the birth of an empire and the rise of capitalism thanks to the resources brought from America. Historical discourse has big names, but the archaeological discourse this time does not exist. We have resigned from the responsibility to tell that story and we left the story to treasure hunters.

Inefficient and inadequate model

Despite having wrecks worldwide, competition is divided Heritage between a general subdivision of the Ministry of Culture and the 17 departments of the Communities Autonomous. This core management of underwater heritage in Spain has proven ineffective and is completely inadequate to the challenge of a discipline that requires push through projects involving several ministries, including Foreign Affairs. This year there will be no state archaeological excavation campaign in Spanish waters. The lack of results hurts.

So much so that in 2001, after winning the case Juno and La Galga in US courts, a contract with Sea Hunt treasure hunters was signed, those who had plundered the deposits. In 2007, due to the media scandal after the Odyssey case, the government won another trial in Florida (although the Spanish prevented the plundering understand justice in the court of La Línea de la Concepción). In this case the archaeological material returned to Spain, was restored and displayed. But if we did more, we would have real arguments against treasure hunters.

Eight years later, nothing has changed regarding the management of this area, in terms of dedicated budgets, and only this summer, as reported ABC, has planned a first inspection of the site of the frigate Mercedes. The first national project of underwater heritage comes eight years late and is inspecting a theft. But it's something.

Bureaucratic Profile

The Autonomous Communities, only some specialized centers, have provided no solution. The best is undoubtedly Catalan, CASC, one with capacity for systematic campaigns and publications, usually oriented to the classical world, but will publish a monograph on the Triumphant, the ship wrecked in Rosas in 1795. Its current director, Gustau Vivar, it is a great specialist, like his predecessor, Xavier Nieto. But the management of other regional centers is in the hands of specialists in underwater archeology. Some have almost two decades, as the CAS Andalusian, but do not offer great results: research, international scientific publications or major projects underway, despite having the jurisdiction over one of the richest seas in the whole global heritage. Only Trafalgar, one of the biggest battles of humanity, would have a potential of knowledge and unique cultural industry.

The archeology conducted from these offices has led Spain to the lack of international profile in relation to the great naval history of our country. And that bureaucratic profile has led us to make big mistakes and decorate a treasure hunter (Bob Marx, in 1963) or grant permits and permit activities to companies like Odyssey Marine Exploration between 2000 and 2007, with the known results (apart from the contract with Sea Hunt in 2001 in exchange for an anchor). Hannah Arendt said that "bureaucracy is the domain of anyone, which is not the same as a lack of control, and we are all equally helpless before his dictation because in it we have a tyranny without tyrants". This idea applies to paralysis of Spanish archaeology in recent decades. Who decided and how? It has not been very transparent.

Sovereign immunity

There is some positive data showing changes to this outdated structure, such as that inspection of the site of the Mercedes (which was about to take over a French boat), or creating a new master in the Campus of Cadiz CEIMAR. Perhaps the most important innovation has been the inclusion of the Navy as a guarantor of security of wrecks of ships operated in the new Navigation Act. The defense of sovereign immunity of these wrecks, with which he beat the treasure hunters in the US courts, did not apply in the Spanish legislation. Some archaeologists, moved by the Ministry of Culture terminals, challenged the law because the powers were threatened on equity. But the rule does not change them.

Now it needs to Culture, which acts with UNESCO, defend with all of the law a more visible international profile of Spain in the defense and investigation of their heritage, consistent with the support of the organization. Archaeology is a public issue and new generation knocking at the door. To cooperate in projects such as the Incarnation and assume the defense of sovereign immunity in galleons plundered outraged as San Jose. And jump in the proposed excavation of Juncal in Mexico, one of the legendary shipwrecks, led by Pilar Luna , deputy director of the INAH, already underway. That itself could be the touchstone for a renewed Spanish archaeology.

Ten reasons to change the course of the management of underwater archaeology

1 There is no accurate inventory or even knowledge of where the wrecks are. Without knowing the heritage we cannot protect it.

2 Arqua not tried until recently modern times, as a museum of Roman history.

3 There are no specialized periodical publications and international prestige to encourage research.

4 There is not a single campaign budget excavation of shipwrecks in Spanish waters modern age another year.

5 autonomy cannot afford to draft projects.

6 The Spanish justice has failed to act against Odyssey: why?

7 Spain has no visible international profile dialogue. UNESCO often accompanies these issues.

8 Despite the growing public demand, the absence of projects always expose the result of plundering.

9 No archaeological discourses have built the largest contribution to the history of Spain.

10 Has not explored the power of civil society to create projects (universities, companies).





Courtesy ABC.es
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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