On January 10, 1765, the Spanish frigate ‘Purísima Concepción’ sailed from Cádiz to Lima. However, destiny caused it to run aground on the Atlantic coast of Tierra del Fuego, where its crew members coexisted with the indigenous population. More than 250 years after the shipwreck, a group of archaeologists reconstructs the facts.
The history of the frigate ‘ Purísima Concepción ‘ is little known, but it has all the ingredients to be a novel of the pirate genre, not only because its almost 200 crew members survived, but because they organized and built, for three months, a new vessel that it allowed them to leave the inhospitable area where they had run aground.
An epic episode that a group of archeologists is tracking and looking to recover. This team is led by Dolores Elkin, a researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), at the National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought.
“They live harmoniously with the natives is not usual in the history of the colonial period.They also built another ship with the wreck, they used the wood and ironwork, with which they returned to the Rio de la Plata,” explained the specialist in underwater archeology.
The expedition was held in December 2017 and was financed by The National Geographic Society, with support from Argentine government institutions, as well as private sponsors.
In this archaeological search, pieces of artillery and Spanish ceramics were found, such as those of the tableware of the Purísima Concepción, which suggested that they had indeed found the wreck area and the camp where the crew members settled.
But it is not the only record. For the reconstruction of the history of the frigate, in addition to field work, an investigation of more than two years was also conducted, with analysis of historical documents, including a travel journal. The log picks up the crossing, the assembly of the new ship, and the link with the natives.
“It tells the farewell, the moment when the Spaniards leave when the new ship is floating and says that the natives made farewell gestures, that they followed them along the coast, greeting them,” Dolores Elkin said.