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The Playa Damas Shipwreck, Panama


In July 2003 Texas A&M University was invited to consider the complete excavation of the shipwreck at Playa Damas, located near Nombre de Dios, on the Atlantic coast of Panama. Found in the 1990s, this shipwreck was thought to be Columbus' Vizcaína, a small 50 ton caravel lost near Nombre de Dios during his fourth voyage in 1503.

Although we cannot dismiss completely this possibility, its size indicated a larger vessel, about 20 m in length, with scantlings similar to those of the Molasses Reef and the Highborn Cay shipwrecks.

In any event, local politics determined that this shipwreck was salvaged by a for-profit company between 2004 and 2006. Although no artifact seems to have been sold, there is no information about the salvage operations and it is not known whether the hull remains were spared.

Photo: Karl Vandenhole, Spiegel-TV.

This project was possible through the generous support of Der Spiegel, Spiegel-TV, Dr. and Mrs. Peter Amaral, the Spain-USA Foundation, and CMAC.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08