Tags: vasco da gama | shipwreck | treasures

Vasco da Gama Shipwreck Gives Up Thousands of Treasures

Image: Vasco da Gama Shipwreck Gives Up Thousands of Treasures

Divers excavate the wreck site of Vasco da Gama's ship Esmeralda. (Blue Water Recoveries company via AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 16 Mar 2016 09:00 AM

A Vasco da Gama voyage shipwreck more than 500 years ago, the earliest to be found and investigated by archeologists, is giving up thousands of historical treasures. 

The wreck on a remote island in the Sultanate of Oman was part of Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India in 1502-1503, Oman's Ministry of Heritage & Culture and Blue Water Recoveries Ltd said in a news release. Researchers think da Gama’s maternal uncle Vicente Sodré commanded the ship, the Esmeralda.

An extremely rare silver coin, known as the lost coin of Dom Manuel, commissioned in 1499 for trade with India, was among the artifacts discovered. Only one other is known to exist.

"That was an amazing discovery," said David L. Mearns, the director of Blue Water Recoveries, according to The Associated Press. "It was like a thing you read about in a Hollywood story."

Archeologists also found gold coins minted between 1495 and 1501, a bronze bell dating the ship to 1498, and a copper-alloy disc bearing the Portuguese royal coat of arms and an emblem of Dom Manuel I, who was king of Portugal from 1495 to 1521.

Blue Water Recoveries discovered the shipwreck in 1998, and full-scale excavations began in 2013, recovering more than 2,800 artifacts, the release said. Details of the shipwreck were published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology on Tuesday.

A website launched Tuesday includes images and information about the shipwreck.

The ship is believed to be among a squadron of five de Gama left behind under his uncle’s command when he returned from India to Lisbon in 1503, National Geographic reported.

Charged with protecting Portuguese factories along the southwest coast of India, Vicente Sodré in the Esmeralda and his brother Brás in the São Pedro instead looted Arab ships in the Gulf of Aden. The brothers’ ships were destroyed in a dangerous storm, with the São Pedro being pushed to shore and the Esmeralda sinking in deeper water.

The discovery has inspired Oman officials to search for other shipwrecks, the AP said.

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A Vasco da Gama voyage shipwreck more than 500 years ago, the earliest to be found and investigated by archeologists, is giving up thousands of historical treasures.
vasco da gama, shipwreck, treasures
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2016-00-16
Wednesday, 16 Mar 2016 09:00 AM
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