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Lost and Found

Sunken Fortunes, Reclaimed Treasures

For Spanish explorers and American adventurers, finding the gold was only the beginning. They also had to bring it by sea to their home countries and financial centers, but ocean voyages were extremely dangerous. Hurricanes, far more than pirates or other accidents, doomed many gold-laden ships. And cargo that sank to the bottom of the ocean was lost and gone--but not forever.

Recovered treasure provides a rare snapshot of the history of commercial gold. Items such as the gold bars reclaimed from a shipwreck are preserved in their original, unique form. Had they had made it to their destination, such bars would have been melted down for currency or jewelry.


Byzantine and Islamic coins

© AMNH / Craig Chesek

American Museum of Natural History

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