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Shipwreck From Explorer Vasco da Gama's Fleet Found Off Oman Coast

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Shipwreck, believed to be a part of explorer Vasco da Gama's fleet has been discovered off Oman coast, says the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Tuesday.

The shipwreck is believed to be that of the Esmeralda, which sailed to India between 1502-1503.

Discovering The Shipwreck's True Identity

The shipwreck was first found by recovery firm Bluewater Recoveries Ltd in 1998, during the 500th anniversary of da Gama's historic discovery of the direct sea route to India.

The archeological investigations and excavation only started in 2013, which was followed by two more missions in 2014 and 2015.

All in all, a total of about 2,800 artifacts have been recovered.

Although analyses are still ongoing, a provisional report published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology on Monday, have concluded that the vessel was part of da Gama's fleet and that it is most probably the Esmeralda.

Such conclusion was largely based on very unique artifacts such as a coin minted for trade in India and stone cannonballs engraved with "VS," which is believed to be the initials of Esmeralda's chief and da Gama's maternal uncle, Vicente Sodré.

Key Artifacts

Among the most essential artifacts recovered from the shipwreck include a precious copper-alloy disc with a Portuguese royal coat of arms and an armillary sphere, which are personal insignia of Dom Manuel I; a bronze bell that has a mark suggesting the ship was dated 1498; gold coins minted in Lisbon from 1495 to 1501; and lastly, the famous coin minted for India called Indio, which has become so rare, only one other sample in the world exists at present.

Comments From Authorities

His Excellency Hassan Al Lawati, the Minister For Heritage Affairs adviser says that the endeavor is the first one of its kind to be performed in Oman and within the region.

With this, he says that the ministry has taken steps to guarantee that the project will be conducted efficiently. He adds that the endeavor was made possible through expertise in underwater archeology and by following international regulations, such as those set by the UNESCO convention of 2001.

"We appreciate the joint efforts of the local and international entities and institutes that made this project a huge success." He says

Project director and author of the interim report David Mearns says that their project is unique because the team has a specific goal of finding the site of the Sodré shipwreck, using historical data and a survivor's accounts.

Although the team is still in its early phases of work, Mearns says it is gratifying that the team's strategy is now reaping rewards and showing interesting revelations.

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