Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunken Galleon Holds Treasure of Beeswax

An Unexpected Treasure
But the Gold Beach find is not gold; it's part of a galleon's beeswax cargo, rich only in history
By Paul Fattig, Mail Tribune (USA), 2/25/2008

GOLD BEACH — It was the luminescent glow that caught Loretta LeGuee's attention.

"The sun was shining through it — it kind of looked like a huge egg," said the Gold Beach resident who has been combing the local beach each morning for years.

The oval-shaped amber object resting on the storm-tossed log early that December morning was no egg.

Experts believe it's a chunk of beeswax from a Spanish trading vessel that sank off the coast of what is now Oregon more than 300 years ago…

Beeswax was a hot trade item back when the two Spanish vessels sank, Williams explained. It was much preferred for candles over foul-smelling tallow (rendered animal fat).

"The Catholic church required the use of beeswax," he said. "There were no native honeybees in the New World. The churches in Mexico had to get wax from someplace and the large Asian honeybees produced a lot of beeswax."…

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