Divers excavating the wreck site (PRNewsFoto/Oman's Ministry of Heritage)

Ancient Shipwreck Off Oman is Vasco de Gama’s

On a remote island off the coast of Oman in May 1503 a Portuguese trading vessel sunk in shallow water during a storm.

The ship was part of Vasco de Gama’s armada to India. That’s the conclusion reached by archeologists in a recent report published in the International Journal of Nautical Archeology. 

The wreck was first discovered in 1998, but hadn’t been explored fully until 2013 because the location is just so remote. Over the past several years, researchers excavated remains from the ship and recently released the study to summarize their findings.

The report found the ship to be the nau Esmeralda commanded by Vicente Sodré, who was the maternal uncle of Vasco da Gama, according to a press release.

Researchers based that conclusion on several extraordinary artifacts, including a Portuguese coin minted for trade with India (one of only two coins of its type known in existence) and stone cannonballs with the initials V.S. carved in them.

Sorting through the artifacts was undertaken in collaboration with Oman’s Ministry of Heritage & Culture and Blue Water Recoveries of West Sussex, UK.

De Gama’s 1502-1503 armada to India was the second of his trading missions to the east. After the first trip resulted in some hot water with the natives, de Gama returned with 20 ships and along the way killed hundreds of Muslims.

For more on the wreck visit NationalGeographic.com

Photo credit: Oman’s Ministry of Heritage