The Late 1570s Manila Galleon Shipwreck in Baja California

Author(s): Edward P. Von der Porten

Year: 2017


Our fourteen Mexico-United States expeditions from 1999 to 2015 to a wreck site along the desert shore of Baja California, and study of contemporary documents, have enabled us to reconstruct the story of the earliest eastbound Manila galleon shipwreck.  The results include dating the ship to the period 1574 through approximately 1578, recovering her history, and explaining her tragic fate.  We have discovered lead sheathing with iron nails from her lower hull, large amounts of beeswax from her cargo, more than eighteen hundred Ming porcelain sherds and three hundred stoneware sherds, a piece of Iberian pottery, and thirty unusual silver, lead, bronze, and brass artifacts from the ship’s navigating instruments, weaponry, and Chinese-origin cargo.  In addition, we have gained a remarkable insight into the Chinese-Philippine-New Spain trade at this early point in the history of the Manila galleons, which lasted from 1573 to 1815. 

Cite this Record

The Late 1570s Manila Galleon Shipwreck in Baja California. Edward P. Von der Porten. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435320)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 336