History

Treasures Found at Vasco da Gama Shipwreck: Photos

Divers exploring the site of a 500-year-old shipwreck came away with a trove of rare items.

Archaeologists have discovered a 500-year-old shipwreck off Oman that was part of a fleet led by 16th-century Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama during his second voyage to India. Amid the debris of the wreck, divers found a trove of rare artifacts. Read the story:

Explorer Vasco da Gama's Shipwreck Found

The ship is believed to be the Esmeralda, which sank during a violent storm near al-Hallaniyah Island in the Indian Ocean in May 1503. Divers exploring the wreck found this copper-alloy disc marked with the Portuguese royal coat of arms and a personal emblem of King of Portugal Dom Manuel I.

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They also found these gold coins minted in Lisbon between 1495 and 1501.

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Among the rarest finds was this silver coin, called the Indio, commissioned by Dom Manuel in 1499, specifically for trade with India. The coins were forged in 1499 after da Gama's first voyage to India. There is only one other known coin like it in the world.

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Also among the ship's debris was this bronze bell carrying the inscription "498." Archaeologists believe that suggests the ship was built in 1498.

This is one of 35 stone cannon balls found at the site. Each ball is engraved with the letters "VS," which most likely represent the initials of Vincente Sodré, the commander of the Esmeralda.