Treasure Hunters find HMS Victory

Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it has discovered the HMS Victory (the predecessor to Nelson’s flagship Victory). The treasure hunting company released their announcement in conjunction with the Discovery Channel which filmed the expedition to find it and will be showing the footage this week. One of the rumors about the ship is that it sank with a large cargo of gold, perhaps as much as 4 tons. As a Royal Navy warship, the finding could set off a legal battle between the British government and the salvagers.

It is always perplexing to me that an archaeological site underwater is treated differently from a land site. It is ok for a group of treasure hunters to salvage a shipwreck, but if the site was on land , it would not be allowed. The other aspect to this double standard that always irritates me is that the salvage team is almost always described as performing “archaeology” or “archaeological excavation,” once again a description that would not be applied to the same work on land by a group seeking buried treasure.


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