On Tuesday, Oman’s Ministry of Heritage & Culture (MHC) in partnership with Blue Water Recoveries Ltd (BWR) of West Sussex, UK announce the discovery of the nau Esmerelda. The ship which sank in May 1503, was part of a Portuguese expedition to India lead by the famous ocean explorer, Vasco da Gama.
The Esmeralda is the first ship to be found from Europe Age of Discovery, and is an important archaeological find. The wreck was first discovered by BWR in 1998, however a full archaeology survey and excavation by MHC began in 2013. Since the excavation began over 2800 artifacts have been recovered in 2014 and 2015.
The nau Esmeralda was a ship commanded by Vicente Sodré, who was the maternal uncle of Vasco da Gama and a descendent of the nobleman Frederick Sudley of Gloucestshire, UK. Key artefacts helped identify the wreck as Sodré’s nau Esmeralda include, rare coins, a ships bell, cannon balls, beads and an important copper-alloy disc marked with the Portuguese royal coat of arm.
One of the most extraordinary finds was a rare silver coin, called the Indio. The Indio coin was commissioned by Dom Manuel in 1499 specifically for trade with India. The Indio coin is so rare that there is only one other known example in the world, and has legendary status as the ‘lost’ or ‘ghost’ coin of Dom Manuel.
You can learn more about the Esmeralda shipwreck and find high-resolution images and video of the excavation online at the Esmeralda Shipwreck website. The website also includes information about the excavation methodology and descriptions of the important artifacts discovered at the site. [PR Newswire]