Remains of centuries-old Dutch and British ships discovered off Yucatan coast
A team of archaeologists have discovered remains belonging to an 18th century Dutch warship and a 19th century British steamboat as well as an old lighthouse at three separate sites, on the seabed off the coast of the small seaport town of Sisal in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
Sisal is a peaceful beach destination and was an important source of employment for fishermen but between the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a bustling port that attracted numerous vessels, many of which never reached their destination, according to archaeologists from Mexico’s main anthropology and history institute.
Twelve 8.2 foot (2.5 metres) long cannons were found in an area now called, Madagascar Canyons, 22 nautical miles (40 kilometres) northwest off Sisal.
Divers recorded the find with drawings, photos and video. Archaeologists said the cannons bear a resemblance to artillery used by Dutch warships that sailed to the West Indies in the 19th century.
Experts believe the cannons – weighing more than 300 tones in total – were thrown overboard by the crew in an effort to stay afloat. In another location 19 meters (62 feet) to the southeast, archaeologists found eight cannons and eight cannon balls, as well as ceramic fragments, which they believe sunk at the same time. The artifacts are covered by more than 15 centimetres (5.9 inches) of coral.
The second wreck is a British steamboat found 1.08 nautical miles (2 kilometres) north of Sisal, at a site called Adalio, in honour of the grandfather of local fisherman Juan Diego Esquivel, who led archaeologists to its location.
It’s a Mississippi-type steamboat, whose machine and paddle wheels, among other elements, indicate it was built between 1807 and 1870, prior to Scottish type boilers.
According to the characteristics of its machinery, the vessel would have been manufactured, in its technical part, by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company of the United Kingdom.
Archaeologists also found an old lighthouse, two nautical miles (3.7 kilometres) from Sisal. The area was pinpointed by Esquivel. Although it is sectioned, it is known to be eight meters high (26 feet) and 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) in diameter.
It is thought to have been installed on the coast during the government of former Mexican President Porfirio Diaz and was downed during a tropical storm.
© 2018 Reuters