Latin America & Caribbean

Hernan Cortés: Conquistador anchors found off Mexico Gulf Coast

An underwater image of marine archaeologists take measurements of the anchors that date back to the 16th century Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Marine archaeologists take measurements of the anchors - the biggest is almost 4m (13 ft) long

Two 500-year-old iron ship anchors have been discovered on Mexico's Gulf Coast, potentially offering an insight into the Spanish invasion.

Archaeologists say they may have belonged to the fleet led by Spain's Hernán Cortés, who conquered the Aztec empire in the 16th Century.

Last year another anchor was discovered nearby, containing wood originating from a Spanish tree.

All three were found on the coast just north of the port city of Veracruz.

Originally known as Villa Rica, this was where Cortés' fleet landed in 1519. It became a bustling harbour town in the years following Spain's conquest over the Aztecs in 1521.

Divers located the anchors 10-15m (33-49ft) below the sea, under a thick layer of sediment.

Archaeologists hope the latest discovery will lead to the unearthing of more marine artefacts that can illustrate the history of the Spanish invasion. A further 15 potential sites containing anchors have been identified.

Image copyright Reuters/INAH
Image caption One of the anchors recovered off the Velacruz coast

"The Conquest of Mexico was a seminal event in human history, and these shipwrecks, if we can find them, will be symbols of the cultural collision that led to what is now the West," said marine archaeologist Frederick Hanselmann.

Cortés is thought to have destroyed the ships - either by burning, deliberate sinking or beaching - in order to prevent his men from abandoning the voyage.

Earlier this year, Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador asked Spain to apologise to indigenous Mexicans for abuses committed during the invasion.

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