The mysterious “cauldron” from the 17th century may be a primitive submarine used to rescue treasure from a sinking sailing ship

The copper dome extracted from the ocean floor may be the remains of a primitive 17th-century submarine known as a diving bell, one of the first submarines ever found in the world.

The dome was found in 1980 near the 160-foot (50 m) wreck of the Santa Margarita, a Spanish galleon that sank in 1622 in the Straits of Florida, about 40 miles (65 km) west of Key West.

The discoverers hypothesized that the circular object was an oversized cooking cauldron, and it has been in place ever since Mel Fisher Museum (Sebastian in Florida).

Marine archaeologists now believe this object was the top of a 17th-century diving bell used in an early attempt to salvage the treasure from the wreck. (Image credit: Mel Fisher Museum, Sebastian)

But new research indicates that the object may actually be the top of an early diving bell that was lost during the treasure ship salvage just a few years after it sank. These primitive submarines were sometimes used by divers in shallow waters; They are often open at the bottom and filled with air.

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