History of the Shipwreck

It is apparent that this shipwreck site was known for some time by the local fishermen, who dived regularly on it to catch lobsters. It was found by an American diver, Mr. Warren White, in 1997. In the fall of 2001 Mr. Warren White visited this site with a treasure hunting company, Investigaciones Maritimas del Istmo, SA. (IMDI), which used a "mailbox" to dig a trench four meters deep around the vessel, and raised a collection of artifacts. Two of the guns raised at the time may have been dropped in the bay of Nombre de Dios, near the pier, and it is not known if they have been recovered.
Due to the lack of proper storage facilities at INAC headquarters in Panama City, the artifacts were stored at a warehouse built by IMDI in Portobelo, under custody of the Panamanian state.

Fig. 5 - Iron swivel guns stored at IMDI headquarters.

After the announcement by Reuters and Associated Press of a possible trove of artifacts from a supposed Columbus' shipwreck, the Playa Damas site was visited by several archaeologists. Dr. Don Keith, from Ships of Discovery visited the site in January 2002 and shot some video footage of the shipwreck. Later, in the fall of 2002, Dr. Roger Smith and Dr. Cheryl Ward also visited the site on behalf of the Florida Association of Volunteers in the Caribbean to evaluate the possibility of excavating this shipwreck with students from Florida State University.
All these scholars have kindly shared the information retrieved during their trips to Panama with INA and INAC.

Citation information:

Filipe Castro, 2004,
Playa Damas Project: History of the Shipwreck, World Wide Web, URL, http://nautarch.tamu.edu/shiplab/

Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University.