A shipwreck discovered years ago off the coast Oman in the Arabian Sea is believed to be part of the fleet of 16th century Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama on his second voyage to India, according to a new study published today. The wreckage was first discovered in 1998 off the coast of Al Hallaniyah Island in the Arabian Sea, but an archaeological excavation to reveal more about the sunken ship has taken place over the last three years, an interim report published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology says.
Researchers think that what they found is the remains of the Esmeralda, a ship from the famous explorer’s second voyage to India that is believed to have been destroyed in a storm.
“The bay where the site is located was almost a perfect geographical match for where the ships’ [the Esmeralda and the Sao Pedro, another ship in the fleet] wrecked,” CNN quoted the study as saying.
The artifacts found at the wreck site—including incredibly rare coins—also helped to determine the nationality and date of the wreckage, said David L Mearns, the director of Blue Water Recoveries.
The coins were forged in 1499 after da Gama’s first voyage to India, which helps date the wreckage, he said. “That was an amazing discovery,” Mearns said, adding that “It was like a thing you read about in a Hollywood story.”
Since 2013, a team from the British company Blue Water Recoveries and the Oman Ministry of Heritage and Culture have explored a site in the Al Hallaniyah Island’s Ghubbat ar Rahib Bay.