Shipwrecks, Lost Gold, Pirate's Treasure Chests: A Process for Finding Them

Is It Hype, or Is It Real? Essay Assignment

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.

After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, a number of people who had devoted their lives to searching for sunken pirate ships and buried treasure became very excited. The storms churned up the seas, eroded barrier islands, and uncovered vast expanses of ocean floor that had previously been covered with vegetation or debris. The enormous erosional event had fabulous implications. What did the storms uncover? Were chests of doubloons and sunken Spanish ships filled with gold coins, jewels, and other valuables now accessible? If so, how would one start to take advantage of it?

What is the process of putting together a treasure hunt?

Emerald and Pearl Earrings.

This essay assignment gives an individual the opportunity to learn how to describe and write about a process. The process could even lead to a successful treasure hunt!

By examining the processes of groups who have been success, the writer can gain an appreciation of the necessary steps. For example, the Odyssey Marine Exploration group found and recovered a Civil War-era ship that sank during a storm in 1865. Located off the coast of Georgia, the ship was located in 1,700 feet of water. The Company recovered $75 million in gold and silver coins, as well as more than 13,000 artifacts.

The discovery was the culmination of a 10-year search by John Morris and Greg Stemm. The quest for was described in Lost Gold of the Republic and in numerous websites, including the National Geographic. The divers recovered money from the Civil War. They had expected coins, gold, silver, treasure, pearls, artifacts, antiquities, hand-blown glass.

This is an excellent assignment which gives individuals an opportunity to learn how to analyze a process, as well as to connect it to an attractive goal.

Artifact Replica from the SS Republic

In Action (Paragraph 1): A scene that depicts the storm that caused the shipwreck, and a glimpse of the treasure inside.

Desired Outcome -- Treasure! (Paragraph 2): In this paragraph, describe the type of treasure, the place, the reasons for it being where it is, the ship, the storm, the history and contexts. Then describe the desired outcome.

Who has found huge troves of treaure? Where? How? (Paragraph 3): Describe how one treasure-hunter found a shipwreck full of treasure.

How would you get started? Where do you begin? (Paragraphs 4 and 5). How did Odyssey explorationists know that there would be a shipwreck? Was there a legend? Was it believable? Where did they get their facts? How?

What would you do? If you had to put together a treasure exploration, where would you go?(Paragraph 6). Describe where, how, and why you would choose the place. Describe the process. Then, make a list of the equipment you would need, and the team. Are there any ethical issues? What would you do with any finds?

Conclusion (Paragraph 7). How much will it cost? How do you raise the money? Would this be worth exploring? Describe your conclusion.

Coins, gold, silver, treasure, pearls, artifacts, antiquities, hand-blown glass.

A coin (replica) recovered in the shipwreck. Imagine gold coins, doubloons, ingots, bars, jewelry -- submerged for centuries in the wrecks of Spanish galleons, pirate ships, warships, and more. Gold sales, recovery efforts, investments.

 

Useful Web Resources

Typical treasure in shipwrecks: Gold flowerettes, gold chains, bullion, ingots, silver, platinum, pearls, gold filigree, embossed metal boxes, mother of pearl, gold plated pistols, Mayan and Incan gold funerary items, wine bottles, goblets, crystal champagne flutes, gold stocks.

Odyssey Marine Exploration. How do they do it?: http://www.shipwreck.net/

Deep Dark Secrets: Shipwreck Hunters Find Benjamin Noble. (Lake Superior. http://www.cdnn.info/news/article/a041220.html

Shipwreck Salvage: Treasure Hunters vs. Archaeologists. http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa102098.htm

Deep Shipwreck Explorer's Association. http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.shipwreck.net/gpstemm/DEEPSEA.html

Mel Fisher's Treasure Site. http://www.melfisher.com/

The Ghost Galleon and the Santa Margarita shipwreck, and later treasure find. http://www.melfisher.com/salvage/go/atocha.asp