Thursday, May 1, 2008

Treasure Ship Discovered

A 500-year-old Treasure ship which must have sunk some 500 years ago has been discovered off the coast of Namibia.

Geologists From a company called Namdeb searching for diamonds have stumbled upon a shipwreck loaded with gold and silver coins, ivory and cannons. (I wonder if they would have been happier if they had found diamonds!)

Namibia's diamond company, Namdeb, says it found the wreck during operations on the seabed.

The find includes three bronze cannons, thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins, and several tonnes of elephant tusks (Atleast thats what they have disclosed so far).

Spanish gold coins, Portuguese silver coins minted in the late 1400s or early 1500s were found, as well as dividers used for measuring distance on a map during navigation.

The reverse of the some of the gold coins depicts Ferdinand and Isabella, two Spanish monarchs of the time.

There were also human remains (poor guys never got to spend it) and navigational instruments like dividers (used for measuring distance on a map during navigation) and
astrolabes and other period navigational tools were discovered.

An astrolabe was the forerunner of the sextant and was used to measure the maximum angle between the sun and the horizon, thus enabling the seafarers to establish how far north or south they were. Excavations in the area were halted immediately.

Archaeological experts have identified the cannons as coming from early 16th-Century (means somewhere around the year 1500 A.D.) Spain.Thats the time around which Vasco de Gama and Columbus were plying the waters of the New World.

It is thought to be the oldest shipwreck ever discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Namdeb said it came across the wreck on April 1 (All Fools Day!) during operations in the Atlantic after finding some copper ingots and the cannons.

The company is speculating that the ship may be linked to Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, who went missing in 1500 after becoming the first European seafarer to round the Cape of Good Hope.

Namdeb is a joint venture between De Beers( the diamond guys) and the Namibian government.

Namdeb spokesman Hilifa Mbako said the Portuguese and Spanish governments had been alerted and they expected a team of experts to be dispatched to the site shortly for further investigations.

"The shipwreck holds more questions (how are they going to spend it) than answers," he said.

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