Discovery of iron anchors raises hopes of finding Hernán Cortés’s ships

Underwater archaeologists have found two iron anchors just offshore from the spot Hernán Cortés first set foot in Mexico, raising hopes that the fleet which the conquistador scuttled in 1519 may soon be rediscovered.

The anchors were excavated from under a metre of sediment in the Gulf of Mexico near Villa Rica, the settlement Cortes founded upon landing 500 years ago in what is now the Mexican state of Veracruz.

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Archaeologists say the anchors date back to the time of the first conquistadors’ arrival in the Americas. Another anchor found nearby in 2018 contained a species of oak which grows in northern Spain.

“All the tracks are taking us on the right path to finding these ships,” Roberto Junco, head of underwater archaeology at the National Anthropology and History Institute, said.

“The anchors are aligned in a very small area of 300 metres, more or less … so we believe the ships are going to be some 30 metres from the anchors in the direction these anchors are pointing.”

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