Temi-o-2017-International_Journal_of_Nautical_Archaeology


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TheInternationalJournalofNauticalArchaeology
(2017)
46
.1:192201
doi:10.1111/1095-9270.12232
TheOdysseyCase:press,publicopinionandfuturepolicy
IgnacioRodr

guezTemi

no
JuntadeAndaluc

a,ConjuntoArqueol

ogicodeCarmona,Avda.JorgeBonsor,9,41410,Carmona(Sevilla),Spain,
[email protected]
ithadcode-named
BlackSwan
.However,theprocesswasmuchmorethanadisputeoverthecoins.Itreectedmanyofthe
componentsinvolvedintheprotectionofunderwaterarchaeologicalheritage,especiallywheneconomicandpoliticalinterests
areatstake.Writtenfromtheperspectiveofanarchaeologistworkingfortheregionalauthorityresponsiblefordeveloping
archaeologicalpolicy,thispapertriestoassessthecasesimpactonfuturepolicydevelopment.
2017TheAuthor
Keywords:
HMS
sussex
,treasure-hunters,odysseymarineexploration,underwaterheritagemanagement.
V
iewsonthepreservationofarchaeological
remainsstilloftenvarydependingon
unusualfactismainlyduetobotharchaeologists
andthegeneralpublicbeinglessfamiliarwith
underwatersites.Asaresultofthisdoublestandard,
practicesdeemedunacceptableinthemanagement
ofarchaeologicalheritageonlandsuchasits
disturbancebyunqualiedprofessionals,thesaleof
recoveredobjects,oractivitiesdirectedatsitesfor
reasonsotherthanprotectionorresearchembedded
inlong-termresearchprogrammesareoftennot
perceivedbythepublicasunwelcomeorharmfulin
thecontextofunderwaterheritage.
Thisstateofaairs,thelittleattentionpaidtothe
issueoutsideofthemaritime-archaeologycommunity,
andeventheairofadventurewithwhichthemedia
tendtocovernewsaboutunderwaterarchaeological
heritage,cancauseproblemsfortheimplementationof
the2001UNESCOConventionontheProtectionof
UnderwaterCulturalHeritage,evenincountriesthat
haveratiedit.ThisisbecausetheConventionnot
standardsforactingonunderwatersites,butalso
embracescriteriaofminimumactionwithregardto
them,especiallyinrelationtounderwaterwrecks.
UndertheConvention,suchsitesareconsidereda
non-renewableresource.Accesstounderwatersites
oftenrequirescostlyinfrastructuremoreeconomicfor
excavations.
Additionally,wrecksandtheircontents,especially
cargoes,poseaconservationchallengethatmust
becarefullyassessedbeforetheirexcavationcanbe
undertaken.Tothisend,theConvention,ratiedto
dateby55countries,includingSpain,althoughnotby
theUKortheUS,recommendslimitingtheexcavation
ofunderwatersitestoexceptionalcasesinwhich
in
situ
preservationcannotbeassured,advocatinginstead
that,whereverpossible,theybeleftwheretheyare.
Suchprudenceishardtoexplaintoapublicthatnot
onlysuersfromlowawarenesswithregardtotheneed
topreservethisheritage,butisalsoeasilybeguiledby
theglamouroftheadventureoftreasure-huntingwith
whichthesecasesarepresented.
ThesearchforthewreckofHMS
Sussex
,aBritish
RoyalNavywarshipsunkin1694intheAlboran
Sea,otheSpanishcoast,bytheTampa,Florida-
basedcompanyOdysseyMarineExplorationInc.
(OME),andthecompanyssubsequentremovalof
artefactsfromtheSpanishfrigate
NuestraSe

norade
lasMercedes
,sunkininternationalwatersintheGulf
ofC

adizin1804,arethetwocomponentepisodes
oftheOdysseyCase,a
causec

el
`
ebre
indiscussions
surroundingprotectionofunderwaterheritage.
TheOdysseyCase,whichhasbroughtSpanish
culturalauthoritiesintoconictwithaprivate
company,OME,thatwassupportedbytheBritish
government,theUSembassy,andtheSpanishForeign
Ministry(hereinafter,MAE,fromtheSpanish),
haschallengedtheprinciplesoftheConvention.
AlthoughtherulingbytheAmericancourtsultimately
restoredthecoinsandotherartefactsfromthe
Mercedes
toSpain,thislegalsuccessanundeniable
milestoneintheprotectionofunderwaterheritage
hasovershadowedothermuchmoreworrisomeaspects
ofthecasethathighlightthepracticaldiculties
involvedintheconservationofunderwatercultural
I.R.TEMI

NO:THEODYSSEYCASE:IMPACTSONFUTUREPOLICY
heritage.Thus,thebattlemayhavebeenwon,butnot
yetthewar.
Treasure-huntersandUCH
Depthisnolongeraguaranteeofprotectionfor
UCH.Thetechnologicalrevolutionofthe1990smade
itpossibletoaccesspelagicwrecks,andtreasure-
huntingcompanieshavesincerenedtheirnancial
engineering,usuallybygoingpublic,inorderto
undertakecostlyprojects(NoriegaHern

andez,2009:
121.).Despiteincreasednances,thecompanies
havenotessentiallychanged.Treasure-hunters
canbecharacterizedbytheirscantregardforthe
companieshavesoughttoredenethemselvesas
commercialarchaeologists,proposingtheyexcavate
artefactsthattheyarethenabletosell(Stemm,1996).
Infact,theirresearchyieldsanegligibleamount
ofacademicallysoundoutput,especiallygiventhe
resourcesandopportunitiestheyhave.Thisismainly
becauseoftheincompatibilityoftherequirementsof
along-termresearchprojectonawreckandaimsof
removingsaleableartefacts.Aprotmotiveleadstoan
indefatigablesearchfornewwreckstokeepinvestors
expectationsraised,aswellastocloselyguardedsecrecy
regardinganyndsuntilasitehasbeenexhausted.
Thisapproachstandsinstarkcontrasttothepublic
natureandtransparencyofarchaeologicalresearch
(Maarleveld,2011:917.).Despitemedia-inspired
appearances,recoveringtreasurefromshipwrecksisnot
aprotableenterprise;alltreasure-huntingcompanies
losemoney(Throckmorton,1998;Kleeberg,2007:17
f.).Thatanorganizationmightpresentitselfasthe
solemeansofaccessingagivenwreckisnoguarantee
thatitwilltreatthearchaeologicalheritageproperly,
northatitisguidedbythesamesocialpurposethat
characterizesarchaeology,althoughthatisnoteasily
explainedtothepublic(Cockrell,1998).Moreover,
theparaphernaliaacombinationofhightechnology
equipmentandadventurewithwhichtreasure-
hunterssurroundthemselves,andthefavourablelight
inwhichtheyareoftendepictedinthemedia,regularly
allowsthemtooperateintheopen,withoutneedto
hide,unlikelootersofon-landsites.
ItisnosurprisethattheUS,withitsreluctance
tosigninternationalagreementssuchastheUnited
NationsConventionontheLawoftheSea(UNCLOS),
hasnotratiedtheaforementioned2001UNESCO
Convention.Consequently,itisnotonlythecountry
wheremosttreasure-huntingcompaniesarelocated,
butalsowheretheyprefertodeposittheircargoes,as
theapplicablelawthelawofsalvageandotherrules
ofadmiraltyisquitefavourabletosuchcompanies
interests.
InsearchofHMS
Sussex
AlthoughOMEclaimstohavebegunthesearchfor
HMS
Sussex
in1995(OdysseyMarineExploration,
online),itwasnotuntil1998thatthecompanysship,
OdysseyExplorer
,enteredthewatersoftheStraitof
Gibraltar,intheareadisputedbySpainandtheUK.
Accordingtoapieceinthe
TampaBayTimes
on
theso-calledCambridgeProject,OMEhadsigned
apreliminaryagreementwiththeBritishgovernment
(SarmientoDue

nas,2012:47),althoughthespecic
termsoftheagreementarenotknown(Dromgoole,
2004:190).
Here,itisworthpausingtonotetheoverlapping
jurisdictionsinthiscase.Ontheonehand,Spainhas
agenerallawonhistoricalheritage,the1985Ley
delPatrimonioHist

oricoEspa

nol(SpanishHistorical
HeritageAct,hereinafter,LPHE),whichcoexists
alongside17regionallaws.Itistheseinfrastatelawsthat
specicautonomouscommunity(region),hometo
thesitewheretheexcavationistobecarriedout.
GiventhatthewatersinSpainsjurisdictiondonot
belongtoanyoneautonomouscommunity,onemight
thinktheSpanishgovernmentwouldhavejurisdiction,
butinpracticethatisnothowitworks;thecoastal
Ontheotherhand,theMAEhasabsolute
jurisdictionoveranyissueinvolvingaconictof
Spanishinterestsandthoseofanothersovereign
country,inthiscase,theUKviaGibraltar.Finally,
boththeSpanishDirectorateGeneraloftheMerchant
MarineandtheSpanishNavyhavejurisdictionover
divesandoperationsundertakenbyvesselsinSpains
territorialwaters.
OncethepresenceofOMEinSpanishwatersin1998
itsactivitiesandrequestauthorizationthroughtheUS
embassyinMadrid.Duetothepossibleinternational
implicationsofthematter,theMAEcontactedthe
SpanishMinistryofCultureand,whilerecognizing
theAndalusiangovernmentsjurisdictiontoauthorize
archaeologicalinterventionsinSpanishwatersoits
coasts,decidedthatinthiscasethepowertoauthorize
thearchaeologicalactivityshouldliewithcentral
government(AznarG

omez,2004:369.).
WhenOME,throughalawrminMadrid,
requestedauthorizationfromtheSpanishgovernment
toconducttheCambridgeProject,theMAEaskedit
toadaptitsrequesttocurrentlegislationonunderwater
archaeologicalsurveys(LPHE).Followingseveral
correctionsandunderpressurefromtheMAEwhich
theSpanishgovernmentinthesewatersthatwouldbe
recognizedbytheBritishgovernmentin1999OME
wasnotiedthatthecorrespondingauthorizationhad
beengranted,withtheknowledgeoftheMuseoNaval
(NavalMuseum),whichisattachedtotheSpanish
MinistryofDefence,andfollowingafavourablereport
bytheSpanishMinistryofCulture.
Thisauthorizationmightseemabsurd,since,no
matterhowmuchtheprojectwasadapted,itseems
NAUTICALARCHAEOLOGY,
46
.1
unlikelythatOMEwouldbepersuadedtofully
embracearchaeologicalconsiderations,objectivesand
UNESCO2001Convention.However,Spainhadlittle
roomtomanoeuvreinthisregard;infact,itusedwhat
roomithadtoensure,aswellasitcould,thatthe
activitywouldbecarriedoutinstagesandwouldalways
aectonlythewreckofHMS
Sussex.
TounderstandwhySpainshandsweresotied,it
mustberememberedthatnoonedisputedthatHMS
Sussex
hadbeenastatevesselonanocialmission
whenitsank,alegalstatusthatshipsandaircraft
retainfollowingtheirlossandthatalsoextendstotheir
cargoes(AbadCamacho,2003).Oncethatpostulateis
accepted,regardlessofwhereawreckmightbelocated,
inapplicationoftheUNCLOSprinciplesthefactthat
itwasastateshipmeansthatitwillhavesovereign
immunity.Consequently,inthiscase,itfelltotheUK
todecideitsfateand,thus,tocommissionitssalvage
(JusteRuiz,2009:437).
However,theSpanishgovernmentdidnotlimititself
tomerelyaccedingtoOMEsrequest,butrathertook
advantageoftheauthorizationtolimitthescopeof
itsactivity.Indeed,authorizationsforarchaeological
activitiescanbeaccompaniedbymandatoryprovisions,
whichformpartoftheauthorizationitself.This
techniquewasusedtospecifythatthesubjectofthe
searchwastheremainsofHMS
Sussex
andthatany
otherndwouldbereportedtotheSpanishauthorities.
Likewise,limitingconditionswereestablishedonthe
timeframeoftheauthorization(90days,whichcould
beextendedforweather-relatedissues)andtheareaof
application,whichwasconnedtothespacedelimited
Inadditiontotheselimits,otherconditionswere
establishedaectinghowtheworkwouldbecarried
out.Specically,OMEwasnotauthorizedtoremove
anything,butratherwasrequiredtoreportany
scienticinformationderivedfromtheactivity.They
werealsotoallowthepresenceofarepresentativeofthe
SpanishNavytocollaborateonscientictasks(Aznar
G

omez,2004:372f.).
Asisclearfromtheinformationcontainedinasworn
statementmadebyGregStemmonbehalfofOME,
ledwithCourtNo.3ofLaL

neadelaConcepci

on
(C


nas,2012:
339.),overthecourseof1998and1999,OMEtried
topreparesalvageprojectsforwrecksinSpanishwaters
forthebenetoftheMuseoNavalandtheBritish
RoyalNavalMuseum,butfailedtosecurethesupport
oftheSpanishMinistryofCulture,theauthority
responsibleforgrantingsuchauthorizations.
ThenextmilestonewasthediscoverybytheSpanish
artillerypiecesandananchor.Theirremovalwas
authorizedunderstrictconditionsandlimitedtothe
aforementionedpieces.
Thepieceswerethusremovedand,althoughareport
bytheMuseoNacionaldeArqueolog

aSubacu

atica
(NationalMuseumofUnderwaterArchaeology)in
Cartagenafoundthattheirorigincouldnotbe
categoricallyconrmed,OMEassuredtheBritish
governmentthattheyhadbelongedtoHMS
Sussex
.
Thisenabledtheconclusionofaneconomicagreement
governmentandOME,whichwassignedin2002
(Dromgoole,2004:190.).
Theagreementwaspresentedasajointresearch
butitwascensuredbytheCouncilforBritish
Archaeology(CBA,2002),whichcriticizedits
eminentlycommercialnature.
In2001,theGuardiaCivil(SpanishCivilGuard)
informedtheAndalusiangovernmentofthepermits
givenbytheSpanishgovernmenttoOMEtolocate
HMS
Sussex
;however,giventheextraordinary
circumstancessurroundingtheOdysseyCase,the
Andalusiangovernmentdidnotpursueaconict
ofjurisdictionwiththecentralgovernment.In
return,thecentralgovernmentacknowledgedthatthe
requirementsofthelocalregulations,theReglamento
deActividadesArqueol

ogicas,approvedbyDecree
168/2003,of17June2003.
ThereinlaytheprimaryproblemforOME,forboth
theinitialCambridgeProjectandthesubsequent
SussexProjectwererejectedbytheAndalusian
ofanarchaeologicalresearchproject,intermsof
deninghistoricalresearchobjectivesandfollowinga
theprojectsmainshortcomingshadbeenaddressed,
OMEsrefusaltoprovidethecoordinatesofthesite
whereitintendedtoconductitssearchfortheBritish
wreckwasthebiggeststumblingblocktothegranting
authorizationfortheexcavations,despitepressurefrom
theBritishembassyandtheMAE(Rodr

guezTemi

no,
2012:219.).
InJuly2005,theMAEnotiedtheUSembassy,
throughNoteVerbale241/18,oftheauthorization
forOMEtoundertakethetasksinvolvedinthe
identicationofHMS
Sussex
,subjecttotheconditions
establishedtothisendbytheAndalusianDepartment
ofCultureandtheSpanishMinistryofCulture.
Theseincludedhavingtechnicalstaappointedby
theAndalusiangovernmenttoinspectprogresson
theactivity,whichOMEwouldberesponsiblefor
requesting.WhenOMErequestedtheappointmentof
anexpert,boththeAndalusiangovernmentandthe
SpanishMinistryofCulturenotiedthecompanythat
itmustrstobtainauthorizationtoundertakethe
archaeologicalactivity.However,OMEinsistedthatit
alreadyhadthenecessaryauthorizations,afterinitially
denyingthattheallegedwreckofthe
Sussex
wasin
watersunderSpanishjurisdiction.Itthuscontinuedto
operateinthewatersoftheStrait,despiteneverhaving
obtainedauthorizationfromtheSpanishauthoritiesto
salvageHMS
Sussex
,duetotheunfortunatelackof
I.R.TEMI

NO:THEODYSSEYCASE:IMPACTSONFUTUREPOLICY

guezTemi

no,2012:
222225).
In2006,OMEspersistenceinitseortstolocate
the
Sussex,
eventhoughitstillhadnotobtainedthe
necessaryadministrativeauthorizationtodoso,ledto
anewinterventionbytheGuardiaCivil,whichleda
complaintwiththecourtinLaL

neadelaConcepci

on
regardingthecompanysunwillingnesstoleaveSpanish
waters.ThisstubbornrefusaltocomplywithSpanish
lawledtheMAEtointervenedirectly,askingtheUS
embassytoseetothesuspensionofOMEssearchfor
the
Sussex
.Thecompanyultimatelydesistedfromits
eorts.
TheAndalusiangovernmentopeneddisciplinary
proceedingsagainstOMEforengaginginunauthorized
archaeologicalactivitiesinSpanishterritorialwaters,
ninenauticalmilesfromAtunarabeach,whichresulted
inaneof

60,101.21.TheTribunalSuperiorde
JusticiadeAndaluc

a(theHighCourtofAndalusia),
issueditsjudgementon27May2010(AppealNo.
396/2007),dismissingtheappealledbyOMEand
conrmingthesanctionimposed(OrtizS

anchezand
AlbertMu

noz,2011).
ThesanctionmayhaveforcedOMEtoreconsider.
Inanycase,in2007,itonceagainsoughtauthorization
fromtheAndalusiangovernment,thistime,too,with
thesupportoftheUKembassyandtheMAE,to
salvagethecargoofHMS
Sussex
.However,theseries
ofconfrontationswiththeSpanishauthoritiesseemed
tobeaectingthecompanyseconomicperformance
andtohaveledtogrowingdissatisfactionamongits
investors(RuizManteca,2012:3638).
Aroundthattime,OMEcommissionedvarious
wreckspecialiststoresearchthecargoandsiteofthe
sinkingofvariousvesselsinwatersintheStraitat
theArchiveoftheIndiesaspartofwhatitcalled
theAmsterdamProject(Rodr

guezTemi

no,2012:
222.).Amongthemwas
NuestraSe

noradelas
Mercedes,
afrigateyingaSpanishagthatwas
sunkininternationalwatersoCapeSanVicenteby
wasrecountedinthenovel
Trafalgar
,bythenovelist
BenitoP

erezGald

os,aspartofhis
EpisodiosNacionales
series.
Althoughtalkswereheldonthematter,the
authorizationwasnotforthcoming.However,bythe
NuestraSe

noradelasMercedes
wreck,the
Odyssey
Explorer
andthesupportvessel
OceanAlert
had
travelledtowatersneartheStrait(Rodr

guezTemi

no,
2012:225)withoutsurveillance.
Onemorefactorshouldbementioned.In2006,
theGuardiaCivilcarriedoutthesecondphaseof
Operaci

onBah

a
,undertakentocombatunderwater
archaeologicallooting,whichwasnotrelatedtoOME.
Theaimwastodismantlearingthathadaseriesof
frontcompaniesthatsoughtpermitstosearchseabed
sediments,allowingthemtosubsequentlycharter
vesselstolootwreckstheyhadfound(Rodr

guez
Temi

no,2012:225226;AznarG

omez,2015:5254).
Curiously,theformerrepresentativeoftheAmerican
companySeaHuntinSpaintookadvantageofthe
mediabuzzsurroundingtheOdysseyCasetoaccuse
OMEofinterferingwithitsbusinessandtoattack
therivalcompanyinthemedia.Inoneinterview,for
instance,heclaimedtohavebeenthersttodiscover
theHMS
Sussex
(
ElMundo,
Tengo4.000millones[de
euros]bajoelmar[Ihave4billion[euros]underthe
sea,3April2005).
NuestraSe

noradelasMercedes
Giventhesecrecysurroundingtheevents,littleisknown
abouttheoperationsperformedinremovingartefacts
fromthe
NuestraSe

noradelasMercedes
wreck-site.
Itisknownthatthecompanyrequestedauthorization
toexploitthesitefromtheSpanishgovernmentatthe
endof2006,asstatedintheinquiryopenedatthe
courtinTampa(Florida)forthecase,
1
andthatthis
authorizationwasdenied.
However,althoughthemaritimesurveillanceservices
weremainlyawareoftheOMEvesselswhereabouts,
theylosttrackofthemintheAtlanticinApriland
May2007;thevesselsremaineduntrackedforalmosta
month.Theremovalofartefactswasdiscoveredbythe
GuardiaCivilwhenOMEledasuitagainstoneofits
ownemployeeswhohadboughtsharesinthecompany
justbeforethenewsbrokeoftheactionbroughtby
OMEinTampatoclaimownershipofaquantityof
coins.The
TampaBayTimes
(18January2008)reported
thenewsinanarticleentitledIllegalinsidertradingof
Odysseyisalleged.
On17May,the
TampaBayTimes
publishedapress
releaseinwhichOMEpubliclyannouncedtheling
oftwolegalactionstoclaimownershipofandthe
righttoexploittwowrecks:the
Ancona
andanother,
shroudedinutmostsecrecy,knownonlybythecode
name
BlackSwan
(Rodr

guezTemi

no,2012:227).All
theysaidofitwasthatitwaslocated100mileswest
ofGibraltaratadepthof1100m.Ithadacargoof
approximately500,000coins(about17tonnes),mostly
silverandsomegold,alongwithotherarchaeological
materials.Previously,on9April2007,OMEhadled
acomplainttheMiddleDistrictofFloridainTampain
whichitsoughttoberecognizedastheholderofthe
ndandsalvagerightstotheremainsthathadbeen
recoveredandtransportedtoFlorida.
ThelegalproceedingsinitiatedintheUScourtsare
wellknownandhavebeenexaminedmultipletimes
elsewhere(CarreraHern

andez,2009;RuizManteca,
2012;GoldandCabodelaVega,2015;AznarG

omez,
2015).Forthepurposesofthispaper,anoverviewof
themainpointswillsuce.ForaUSfederalcourt
internationalwaters,alegalction,knownasaninrem
action,mustoccur.Inbringingsuchanaction,OME
depositedwiththecourtaphysicalobjectfromthe
wreck,whichwouldbetheres,andsoughtawarrantof
arrest.Inreality,thejudgesdonotdecideontheentire
NAUTICALARCHAEOLOGY,
46
.1
cargo,butratheronlyonthemotionregardingthe
objectdepositedwiththecourt;however,theirdecision
appliestotherest.Thus,thelerisabletocircumvent
theprincipleofextraterritorialityoftheUScourtsin
mattersofmaritimesalvageofUCH.
Therstpartoftheproceedingswashinderedbythe
countlessobstaclescreatedbyOME,rsttoproviding
thecoordinatesofthesitewherethewreckhadbeen
found,andthentotheidenticationofthevessel.Itwas
lateracceptedthatitwasindeedthe
NuestraSe

norade
lasMercedes
.That,alongwithotherattitudesadopted
byOMEanditslawyers,ledSpaintoleamisconduct
complaint,whichtheUScourtsultimatelyendorsed,
orderingOME,in2013,topaythecostsandimposing
aneforbadfaithandabusivelitigationofmorethan
US$1million(AznarG

omez,2015:50).
Second,therewasalsooppositiontotheexamination
ofthecargo,whichwasnallyachievedbyorderof
thecourthearingthecase.Oncethesepointshad
beenproven,thelawsuitfollowedapredictablecourse,
consistingofhighlyspeciclegaltechniques.Despite
thisspecicity,itwouldbehelpfultooeranoverview
oftheprocesshere.
ThemagistratejudgeoftheUSDistrictCourt
fortheMiddleDistrictofFlorida,TampaDivision,
issuedareportandrecommendationtohissuperioron
3June2009,inwhichhestatedthat,undertheForeign
SovereignImmunitiesAct,thecourtshouldnottry
thecaseandthattheobjectsremovedbyOMEshould
bereturnedtoSpain,withoutentitlingOMEtoany
formofreward.Thelegalcruxofthiscasewasthe
magistratejudgesrecognitionthatthe
NuestraSe

nora
delasMercedes
wasastatevesseland,therefore,subject
tothesovereignimmunityofSpain,whichhadnever
renouncedit.Oncethiscircumstancewasrecognized,
theclaimsofPeruandtheallegedheirsofpeoplewho
hadprivatecargoonthevessel,anissuethathadraised
otherdoubts,weredismissed(Alderman,2010).
ItisworthnotingthatthepositionoftheUS
withtheinterestsofSpain,undervariousbilateral
agreements.Subsequently,ajudgementwasissued
on22December2009,endorsingthecontentofthe
aforementionedreportandrecommendation.
In2011,the11thCircuitCourtofAppealsissuedan
opinionconrmingthatthereswasthe
NuestraSe

nora
delasMercedes
andrearmingthatOMEshouldturn
thecargoovertoSpain.Thesamecourtalsodismissed
theappealledbyOME,whichultimatelyleda
certiorari
withtheUSSupreme
opinionoftheCourtofAppealsnal.Finally,the
containersofcoinswerebroughttoSpainfromTampa
aboardtwomilitaryplanes.
Theensuingexultantproclamationofvictoryhas
postponedvirtuallyallcriticalreviewoftheevents.
SpainmayhavewonintheUScivilcourts,butthe
criminalproceedingsinstitutedbyCourtNo.3ofLa
L

neain2007attherequestofthePublicProsecutors
Oce,whichweretoclarifyandjudgeOMEsliability
fortheremovalofarchaeologicalartefactscarriedout
havestalledbeforetheinitialinvestigationphasecould
forthisfailure.Thepressreportedthemeagreinterest
shownbythethenMinisterofCultureincontinuing
theinvestigationssee,forinstance,
,
28February2012,[ElMinisteriode]Culturaperdona
aOdysseyyconsideraelcasocerrado([TheMinistry
of]CulturepardonsOdysseyandconsidersthecase
closed).
NoristheremuchcauseforjoywhentheOdyssey
Caseisviewedfromaperspectiveotherthanthestrictly
judicial.Oneoftheaspectsmostaectedbytheprocess
wasthepublicimageofarchaeologyandunderwater
archaeologicalheritage.
Odysseycaseinthepress
Theseminalroleofthemassmediainshapingreality
isintrinsictotheveryfunctionofreporting,thatis,
ofprovidinginformationorinformingaboutasubject.
Indeed,etymologicallytoinformcomesfromtheLatin
inform

are
,whichliterallymeanstoshape,giveform
to,delineate.Giventhelengthoftheperiodduring
whichtheOdysseyCasewascoveredbytheSpanish
media,from1998to2015,ananalysisofthiscoverage
makesitpossibletogainaninitialunderstandingofthe
imageprojectednotonlyoftheeventitself,butalso
ofthepartiesinvolved,and,ultimately,ofunderwater
archaeologicalheritage(Rodr

guezTemi

no,2012:389
402).
Hereitisworthlookingathowsomeprintmedia
wereusedtochannelthepositionsofthedierent
stakeholders,aswellaswhatthissaysaboutthevoices
missingfromthisprocess.Tomakeiteasiertofollow
thisdiscourse,whereverpossible,exampleshavebeen
takenfromnewspapersthathaveopen-accessonline
archives.
Neverhasanepisodeofthisnaturereceivedmore
coverageintheSpanishmediathantheOdysseyCase.
and2006,barelyadozenarticleswerepublished
onthepresenceofOMEinSpanishwaters,mainly
inthelocalpress(SarmientoDue

nas,2012:2048).
Beginningin2006,eventsmovedquicklyand,asa
resultoftheexpectationgeneratedbyOMEsactions,
anynewsaboutthemwaspromptlyreectedinthe
ofthedevelopmentsintheAmericancourtsand
post-OdysseyCasereportsontheconsequencesfor
underwaterarchaeologicalheritage.
Oftheseveralhundrednewsitemsontheevents,the
vastmajorityweretheresultofpressreleasesissuedby
themainpartiestothecase:theSpanishauthoritiesand
OME.Thesewereaccompanied,albeittoamuchlesser
extent,byotherjournalisticformats,suchasfeatures,
I.R.TEMI

NO:THEODYSSEYCASE:IMPACTSONFUTUREPOLICY
stories,interviews,andopinionpieces,whichprovided
aplatformforotherstakeholders.Itshouldbenoted
bytheadoptionofastrongpositionwithregardtothe
events,andwiththeagrantintentionofinuencing
publicopinion,attimeswithverylittleregardforthe
facts.
Atrstglance,onemightimaginethatOME,
undeniablythemainactorintheprocess,wouldhave
haddicultyndingsupportintheSpanishpress,
butnothingcouldbefurtherfromthetruth.Prior
to2007,OMEwaswellreceivedbyallthemedia.
Thiswasduetothreefactors.First,theglamourof
adventurethatsurroundedreportsintheformofan
epicstoryofOMEsconfrontationswiththeSpanish
cultureauthoritiesandtheGuardiaCivilmaskedthe
underlyingmessageoftheunlawfulnessofOMEs
actions.Second,thebroadandpolysemousconceptof
underwaterarchaeologicalheritagewasreducedtothe
ideaofeconomicallyvaluabletreasure.Elgolfodel
tesoro(TreasureGulf)readthetitleofonearticle
publishedintheSpanishdaily
ElPa

s
on11April2005,
ontheabundanceofarchaeologicalheritageintheGulf
ofC

adiz.Finally,newsaboutOMEpublishedinthe
foreignpress,especiallyinAmericanmedia,waswidely
echoedinSpain.Indeed,OMEfoundasortofadvocate
inthesocial-democratic
ElPa

s
newspaper.
When,on18May2007,
ElPa

s
reportedthat
OMEhadseizedthecoins,itsoughtanevocative
headlinereminiscentoftheworldofpirates,adventure,
andhiddentreasure:Piezasdeaocho!(Piecesof
eight!),theheadlineran,recallingthephraserepeated
byLongJohnSilversparrot,fromRobertLouis
Stevensons
TreasureIsland
.Thisfavourabletreatment
andobjectives,tothepointwherethenewspaper
AndalusianDepartmentofCulture.Forinstance,the
featureentitledAlrescatedelorodel
Sussex
(Saving
the
Sussex
sgold)(
ElPa

s
,30March2007)omitted
allreferencestothewordlooting,usinginsteadterms
suchassalvageorrecovery,anddepictedOMEasthe
bestunderwaterresearchcompanyintheworld.Not
untilanarticleontheresearchconductedin2015onthe
NuestraSe

noradelaMercedes
bytheMuseoNacional
deArqueolog

aSubacu

atica(NegueruelaMart

nez
,2015),wellintothepost-OdysseyCaseera,did
ElPa

s
nallyusethewordlootingforthersttime,
callingOMEatreasure-huntingcompany(ElPa

s,27
October2015).
ElPa

s
reportedonthelegalproceedingsinTampa
basedonthegeneralideathattheissueatstakewas
therecovery,byaspecializedcompany,ofatreasureto
whichtheSpanishstateclaimedtohavecertainrights.
Asitwasapurelycivildispute,bothsideshadthesame
toSpain,theunderwaterarchaeologicalheritagewas
onlypresentinthewordsofothers,regardlessofthe
editoriallinetaken.
Thecoveragebytheconservative-leaningnewspaper
Abc
theoppositionoverthisissue.Liketherestofthe
media,
Abc
rarelystrayedfromthepressreleasesof
thewireservices,althoughitseditoriallineconsistently
accusedOMEoflooting,irrespectiveofthecivil
matter(Garc

aCalero,2009).Alsolikeothermedia,
Abc
simultaneouslycombinedocialinformationwith
othersources.Amongthelatter,itpaidspecialattention
tothecompanyNerea,aUniversityofM

alagaspin-o
dedicatedtounderwaterarchaeologicalheritage,which
initiatedlegalactionagainstOMEforlooting,thereby
reinforcingthemessagethatOMEsactionshadbeen
illegal(Noriega,2009:103f.).
However,
Abc
isundoubtedlyplayingitsmost
importantrolenow,inthepost-OdysseyCaseera,
whenithasemergedasthevoiceofasectorcallingfor
theSpanishNavytoplayamoreimportantroleinthe
responsibilityforunderwaterarchaeologicalheritage.
Accordingtothenewspaper,thetruedrivingforces
behindSpainslegalvictoryoverOMEwerenotthe
SpanishorAndalusiangovernments(bothofwhich
wereheldbythePartidoSocialistaObreroEspa

nol
[SpanishSocialistWorkersParty]atthetime),but
ratheracastofcharactersthatmakeupalobbywiththe
MuseoNavalatitscore(
Abc
,27February2012,Los
aut

enticosh

eroesdelcasoOdyssey[Thetrueheroesof
theOdysseyCase]).
Inlightofthesuspicionsarousedbythepublic
actionscontainedintheNationalPlanforProtection
ofSpanishUnderwaterCulturalHeritage(Aznar
,
2010),stillinforcetodayalthoughweakenedby
thecurrenteconomiccrisis,thislobbyseemsmore
interestedintakingadvantageofthevasttreasures
thatstilllayunderSpanishwatersthaninleaving
them
insitu
,inaccordancewiththe2001UNESCO
Convention(
Abc
,11March2012,Unenormetesoro
enelfondodelmar[Avasttreasureonthe
seabed]).
Meanwhile,theultraconservative
has
stakedoutaveryactivepositiononthecase,notleast
becauseoneofitsjournalistswascommittedtothe
issue.Althoughitinitiallysharedtheideaofadventure
andfabulousunderwaterriches(see,forexample,the
featuresTesorosignorados[Unknowntreasures]and
LaIsladelTesoros

existi

o[TreasureIslandwas
real]publishedin
,5May2007),itwasthe
rstmediumtosoundthealarmonthelootingofthe
Mercedes
(
,18May2007,El
Odyssey
busca
algom

asqueel
Sussex
cercadelascostasdeEspa

na
[The
Odyssey
islookingformorethanthe
Sussex
o
theSpanishcoasts]).
wasunquestionablyhostiletoboth
theSocialistgovernmentsandOME.Itpointed
totheMAEasthepartyresponsibleforgranting
authorizationtoOME(
,29June2007,
Moratinosautoriz

olostrabajosdeOdysseyapesarde
NAUTICALARCHAEOLOGY,
46
.1
laoposici

ondeChaves(Moratinos[thethenSpanish
ForeignMinister]authorizedOdysseysresearch
despiteoppositionfromChaves[thenpresident
oftheAndalusiangovernment]).Thisaccusation
standsincontrasttotheprudencemaintainedby
ocialsourcesand
ElPa

s
,whichalwaysspokeof
WhenWikileakslaterleakedthecontentoftheUS
diplomaticcablesontheOdysseyCase,theaccusation
wasconrmed(
Abc
,10December2010,Wikileaks
pruebaqueelpermisodeExterioresdiopiealexpolio
deOdyssey,[WikileaksprovesthattheMAEenabled
theOdysseyslooting]).
Likeothermedia,
bolstereditsarguments
throughtheparticipationofotherpartiesallegedly
familiarwithundisclosedaspectsoftheOdyssey
Case,thuschannellingthevoiceofanothervery
searchforsunkentreasuresinSpanishwaters.Attention
shouldbecalledtoasalvorwho,buildingon
painstakingresearchattheGeneralArchiveofthe
Indies,wroteapaperwithawealthofinformationon
themainwrecksofSpanishgalleons(Bonifacio,2009),
andtotheauthoroftheso-calledMediterranean
thesis,atheorythatdivergesfromtheocialview.
Underthattheory,thesitewaslocatednotin
internationalwaters,butintheMediterraneanSea
otheSpanishcoast(SarmientoDue

nas,2012).The
policehadbroughtchargesagainstbothofthese
La
contributorsin
Operaci

onBah

aII
against
underwaterlooting,whichthenewspaperfailedto
report.
Othermedia,suchas
ElMundo
or
ElDiariodeC

adiz
,
maintainedamoreneutraltone,reportingonlyocial
statementsoroccasionalinterviews,withoutproviding
anyrelevantviewstocounterbalancethevoicesofthese
lobbies.Inthisregard,bothinthegroupofpolarized
thescantparticipationofSpanisharchaeologists
inthisintensedebatestandsout.Thislackof
interestincurrentaairsrearmstheunocialmotto
thathascometocharacterizeSpanisharchaeology:
stayoutofdebatesthattakeplaceoutsideof
archaeologyinSpainandwithinarchaeologyoutsideof
Spain.
Althoughnoresearchhasbeenconductedspecif-
icallywithaviewtoanalysingthepublicimageof
archaeologyandunderwaterarchaeologicalheritage,it
ishardtoignoretheprevalenceofthecentralideaof
treasureandnottorealizethatpropermanagement
ofunderwaterarchaeologicalheritagerequiresnot
missingopportunitiestoinuencethissituation.Ithas
beenshownthatshouldtheSpanishgovernmentfailto
dosoitself,otherswillstepintollthevoid.
InthewakeoftheOdysseyCase,Spanishpublic
opinionofconceptssuchastherationalmanagementof
non-renewableresources,ortheUNESCOrecommen-
dationshavesunk,nottothebottomofthesea,butinto
thedeepabyss.
ConclusionsregardingtheOdysseycase
Althoughasingleconceptofhistoricalheritageisused
torefertoremainsfoundbothonlandandunderwater,
asthispaperhasshown,protectionofthetwotypes
doesnotalwaysfollowthesamecriteria.
Dromgoole(2004)emphasizedthattheagreement
thelimitsofthe2001UNESCOConvention.In
heropinion,theConventionlacksmechanismsfor
balancingtheculturalandcommercialvalueofthe
cargoofsunkenvessels,especiallywhenthelatter
isincalculable.However,Idonotndthiscriticism
tagefoundonlandandthatfoundunderwaterisnot
thesuperimpositionofaneconomicvalueonhistory,
asbothtypesofheritagehavethat.Thedierenceis
thatnoonewouldnowthinkofsellingarchaeological
objectsrecoveredonlandaspartofanarchaeological
excavation,whereassuchbehaviourhasbeencommon
practicewhenitcomestounderwatersites.
Whileitiseasytounderstandwhytreasure-hunting
companieswouldseektojustifythispractice,sucha
positionismuchhardertounderstandwhenespoused
byagovernment,which,attheendoftheday,is
knowledgeofthepastandtheenjoymentthereof.
AlthoughtheBritishgovernmenttriedtodisguise
theagreementwithOMEasamajorresearchproject,
itscontentprovedittobenomorethanacommercial
agreementfordividingupnds.Asnotedabove,once
itscontentwasdisclosed,theagreementwasrejected
byarchaeologicalinstitutions.However,Dromgoole
recallsthatthecommercialnatureoftheagreement
consistentwithBritishpolicyandpositivelawon
portablearchaeologicalpropertyintheUK(atleast,in
EnglandandWales).TheTreasureAct1996provides
thatgoodsdeclaredassuchshallbeoered,rst,to
Shouldnomuseumwantthem,theymaybeoeredat
thatpartytodisposeofhoweveritwishes.
Therefore,theintentionsofthepartiestothe
Sussex
agreementwithrespecttodisposaldonotseemtobe
signicantlyoutoflinewiththepositioninrelationto
ndsonland,contrarytosuggestionsofopponentsto
theagreement.(Dromgoole,2004:196)
FromaSpanishperspective,Britishlawonarch-
aeologicalheritagehasneverbeenparticularly
interventionist.Moreover,alimitedrolefortheState
andstateauthoritieshasbeenpromotedsincetheriseto
Thatcher.Itsneoliberaleconomicagenda,basedon
cuttingsocialspending,profoundlycompromisedthe
maintenanceofculturalpoliciesimplementedduring
thegrowthyearsofthewelfarestate,which,inturn,
deeplyaectedarchaeologicalheritageconservation
I.R.TEMI

NO:THEODYSSEYCASE:IMPACTSONFUTUREPOLICY
areluctancetosigninternationalagreementsfor
thesafeguardofculturalheritage,suchasthe2001
UNESCOConventionortheUNIDROITConvention
onStolenorIllegallyExportedCulturalObjects
(Rome,1995).However,noneofthisjustiesthedesire
toremoveobjectslyingatthebottomoftheseainthe
absenceofanyurgentneedtosavethem.
TheBritishgovernmentmustnothaveseenanything
objectionableinOMEsattitudetowardthe
Nuestra
Se

noradelasMercedes
,forevenaftertheCourtof
Tampahadissueditsopinions,itcontinuedtocontract
OMEtosalvageEnglishshipwrecksforclearly
commercialpurposes.Therewasalsothecontractto
workontheHMS
Victory
,theBritishwarshipthat
wasthepredecessortoLordNelsons
Victory
,which
sankduringastormin1744,throughacharitable
trustcalledtheMaritimeHeritageFoundation
(
TheTelegraph
,05January2013,UStreasurehunters
readytosnatchgoldfromthejawsof
Victory
).Only
underpressurefromarchaeologistsanddescendants
ofthecrewdidthegovernmentreconsiderthe
authorization(
TheTelegraph
,15February2015,Tory
LorddefendsthetreasurehuntforHMS
Victory
).
AsregardstheperformanceoftheSpanishgovern-
ment,althoughitwasmorerespectfulofdomesticand
internationallawwhileOMEwassearchingforHMS
Sussex
wreck,itsactionswerealsoawed.Thelack
regionalgovernmentscannotbeunderstoodoutside
factthat,atthetime,theyweregovernedbydierent
politicalparties.ItissomewhatironicthatMrRajoy,
who,asMinisterofEducationandCulture,initially
authorizedOMEtosearchforHMS
Sussex
inSpanish
waters,wasalso,yearslater,asPrimeMinister,the
persontoreceivethecoinsfromthe
NuestraSe

norade
lasMercedes
Anotherverysombreaspectoftheearlypartofthe
process,whichwasbarelytouchedoninthepress,was
theenormouspoliticalpressureexertedbytheMAE
ontheAndalusiancultureauthoritiestoapprovethe
successiveprojects(thatistheCambridgeandSussex
projects),becauseithadendowedtheOdysseyCase
withaninternationalpoliticaldimensioninrelationto
Gibraltar,whichitshouldneverhavehad.
theacademicstandardsforarchaeologicalresearch
denedbyAndalusianlaw.Asarequirementfortheir
authorization,theyneededtobestrippedofthesecrecy
usuallypractisedbytreasure-hunters.Moreover,the
beclearlydened,withoutresortingtoclich

esand
platitudes.
Giventhatunderinternationallawavesselsag
statehasownershipoveritswreckandcargo,itfell
beyondthescopeofSpainsjurisdictiontocommenton
thecommercialnatureoftheexpeditiontondHMS
Sussex
.However,becausethewrecklayinitsterritorial
waters,Spaindidhavejurisdictiontoauthorizethe
archaeologicalactivityinaccordancewithitsdomestic
law,inthiscase,Andalusianlaw,whichisquite
demandingwithregardtotheacademicstandardsthat
Theresistancetothispressure,aboveallbythe
AndalusiangovernmentsCentrodeArqueolog

a
Subacu

atica(CentreforUnderwaterArchaeology),
wasoneofthemostremarkableaspectsofthe
OdysseyCase,asitshowedthatthegovernments
technicalopinionwasuninuencedbypoliticalcrit-
eria.Unfortunately,thatisnotverycommon.
Thattheremovalofartefactsfromthe
Nuestra
Se

noradelasMercedes
courtsandtheproceedingsinitiatedintheSpanish
criminalcourtswerearesoundingfailureisahorrible
precedentthatunderscorestherealityofSpain
enforcingthelawinsimilarsituations.
Itishardlynewsthatjournalismisnotan
independentvariablefromthepoliticalandsocial
system.HallinandMancini(2004)establishedthree
modelstoassessthedegreeofthisindependence.
Spain,Greece,Portugal,FranceandItalyconform
tothePolarizedPluralistmodelofjournalism,
characterizedbytheextremeweaknessofthe
independentcommercialmedia;itisalsothemodel
ormajornancialcorporationsorotherlobbies,
isthemostfrequent.Underthismodel,opinion
journalismprevailsoverinformationandanalysis.
Theconsequencesfortheformationofpublicopinion
haveyettobeassessed,especiallywhentheconcepts
atstakearediculttoconvey,suchasthe
insitu
conservationofwrecksversusthesalvagingoftheir
treasures.Thisisespeciallytroublesomeasthe
mediaarethemainchannelsthroughwhichtodays
thus,throughwhichitultimatelyeducatesitself.The
mediasroleinraisingawarenessisthereforeessential.
Althoughitisundeniablethatmediaprofessionals
generallydocondemntheremovalofarchaeological
materialfromsites,theOdysseyCaseshowsthat
thereareexceptions.Theseexceptionsespecially
aectunderwaterarchaeologicalheritage.Media
professionalsmust,attheveryleast,choosethewords
theyusetodescribeactivitiesthatclearlylieoutside
thelawwithcare.However,itremainstobeseenhow
ideologicalagenda.
Thescarceparticipationofindependentprofes-
sionalsinthemassmediatomediatethesediscussions
furtherhindersthepossibilityofconveyingdirect,
uninuencedinformation.However,themedias
monopolyoninformationseemstobeweakeningas
aresultofsocialmedia,wheretheparticipationof
independentprofessionals,oftenwithinuenceovera
broadcircleofusers,ismorecommon.
ForOME,losingthetrialintheUSwasaharsh
blownotonlyduetothelossesincurredbythe
NAUTICALARCHAEOLOGY,
46
.1
expedition,valuedatUS$2.6million,butalsodue
tothewarinessofitsinvestors,who,by2012,had
accumulatedlossestothetuneofUS$123million
(Bereld,2012).However,thepartnershipwiththe
Britishgovernmentforthecommercialsalvageof
sunkenvesselsyingtheBritishaghasalloweditto
continueitsactivity,despitewidespreadopposition
fromprofessionalarchaeologists(Colapinto,2008).
Therecentarchaeologicalexcavationsatthesiteof
thewreckofthe
NuestraSe

noradelasMercedes
bya
teamofSpanishseabedarchaeologistsandresearchers
(NegueruelaMart

nez
,2015),followingstandard
academicpractices,wasastepforwardinthepolicy
ofprotectionofunderwaterarchaeologicalheritage.
Itisnecessarynotonlytodefendthisheritagefrom
treasure-huntingcompanies,butalso,whenitisatrisk,
tofacilitateitsexcavation.Thestateshouldassumethis
cost,withouttheneedtooutsourcethisworktothese
typesofcompanies.
Separately,anextensiveexhibitionhasbeencreated
aboutthecase,called
Elultimoviajedelafragata
Mercedes.UnTesororecuperado
(Thenalvoyage
ofthefrigate
Mercedes
:arecoveredtreasure).The
exhibitionpresentssomeoftherecoveredcargowitha
toit,beforethefateoftheobjects,manyofwhich
willtaketimetoberestored,isdecided(VarelaAg

u


andCarrascoGarrido,2015).Thisadmirableeort
shouldhelptocreateacertainsocialawarenessof
theprecarioussituationofunderwaterarchaeological
heritage.However,achievingthenecessarylevel
ofsocialawarenessrequiresongoing,ratherthan
episodiceorts.Dressinguptheocialdiscoursein
moreeducationalcontent,islikewiseunhelpful.
Inviewoftheforegoing,itcanbeconcluded
that,despitetheaforementionedocialtriumphalist
fromabroaderperspective,theOdysseyCaseis
awin-winsituationinwhichnoneoftheparties
won.Obviously,OMElostmoneyontheproject,
butinSpaintheOdysseyCasehasshownthat
thegovernment,lawenforcementandjudicial
structuresarenotuptothetaskoftacklingthemajor
challengesinvolvedinprotectingSpanishunderwater
archaeologicalheritage,includingboththatwhichlies
initsterritorialwatersandthatlyingininternational
watersorthewatersofthirdcountries.Modernizingthe
mechanismsforprotectingunderwaterarchaeological
heritagewillbeoflittleuseifworkisnotsimultaneously
donetoraiseawarenessofitssocialpurposeand
professionalsarealreadyworkinginthisdirection,a
criticalreadingoftheOdysseyCaseshouldmakeus
thinkanddrawthenecessaryconclusionstosolvethe
problemsoutlinedinthispaper.
Acknowledgments
ThispaperwasmadepossiblebyR&DProjectDER2013-48826-R,Basesparaarticularunarespuestajur

dicaecazcontrael
expolioarqueol

ogico(Termsforcreatinganeectivelegalresponsetoarchaeologicallooting),fundedbytheSpanishMinistry
Note
1.AlldocumentsfromtheUSproceedingsareavailableonlineathttp://dockets.justia.com/docket/orida/mdce/8:
2007cv00614/197978/(accessed25October2015).
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