Wednesday, May 21, 2014


The Ministries of Education and Defense, and Acción Cultural Española have jointly organized an exhibition on the sinking of the frigate ‘Mercedes’ in 1804, and the tortuous return to Spain of its treasure and cargo after a long legal battle.
The exhibition ‘The last voyage of the frigate ‘Mercedes’ to be inaugurated before this summer, will have two venues, the Archaeological Museum and the Naval Museum, and will display the rich and varied objects recovered by Spain after the long lawsuit with the treasure hunter company ‘Odyssey’. The show will underline the importance of safeguarding our underwater heritage and will explain the historical context and the circumstances of the sinking of the Spanish Navy ship in 1804.

Explosion of the ‘Mercedes’

The curators, Carmen Marcos and Susana García Ramírez have organized the exhibition in the two venues to show more than 200 objects from 35 national and international public and private collections. Among the documents to be exhibited are some of the key files related to the international lawsuit, original objects from the 18th century, written testimonies of survivors, and archaeological remains of the sunken frigate, apart from models, coins, reproductions and audiovisual resources which will permit the visitors to get acquainted with the life style, navigation skills and combat readiness in an early 19th century frigate.
Under the title of ‘A Recovered Cultural Treasure’, the Archaeological Museum will show the circumstances and consequences for Spain of the sinking of the ‘Mercedes’ focusing on the archaeological remains of the recovered cargo. With the legal battle between the Kingdom o Spain and the treasure hunter company ‘Odyssey Marine Exploration’ as a backdrop, the Archaeological Museum will highlight the importance of promoting the defense and protection of our underwater heritage. This venue will exhibit more than 30,000 coins and many documents from the Indies Archive (Archivo General de Indias) and the Simancas Archive, as well as other papers and objects from public institutions.

Recovered coins

The Naval Museum exhibition, under the title of ‘Reason against Plundering’ will show the shipbuilding characteristics of the ‘Mercedes’, her mission, the historical-military context, the naval combat and the circumstances of the explosion and subsequent sinking of the frigate. The Spanish Navy’s endeavors to protect our underwater heritage will also be an important part of the exhibition. Worth mentioning is the scale model of the shipwreck, built after intense research with documents from the Spanish Navy General Archive.

Scale model of the ‘Mercedes’

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Explosion of the ‘Mercedes’
Explosion of the ‘Mercedes’
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Explosion of the ‘Mercedes’

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