Portuguese Explorer Vasco da Gama’s ship “Esmeralda” has been found along with a treasure of over 2800 artifacts in the remote island in the Sultanate of Oman. Oman’s Ministry of Heritage & Culture (MHC), in cooperation with Blue Water Recoveries Ltd (BWR) of the UK, announced the discovery and archeological excavation.
“There’s coins, there’s armaments, there’s munitions, there’s personal objects, there’s organic objects. And we’re bringing in archaeologists and other experts to study the entire collection, so it will ultimately be in a museum and displayed for the public in a way where you’re really spelling out the entire history.” David Mearns, National Geographic grantee and shipwreck hunter, National Geographic
The project has been jointly managed by the MHC and David L. Mearns of BWR and has been conducted in strict compliance with the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage of 2001.
About Oman’s Ministry of Heritage & Culture
The MHC is the official government body responsible for the protection of Oman’s underwater cultural heritage and their management of this project represents the first government-led archaeological excavation of an historic wreck-site in Omani waters. Within the MHC an underwater archaeology programme has been recently established to begin the process of cataloguing and investigating sites of underwater cultural heritage throughout the territorial waters of Oman. Following conservation and analysis, the recovered artefacts will be preserved in a single coherent collection owned by the MHC for ultimate display in Museums.
About BWR / David L. Mearns
David L. Mearns is one of the world’s most experienced and successful shipwreck hunters and has led the research and discovery of 24 major shipwrecks around the world. He is best known for locating the wrecks of HMS Hood in 2001, the British bulk carrier Derbyshire in 1994, and the cargo ship Lucona sunk by a time bomb as part of an Austrian insurance fraud scheme. He was awarded an Honorary Order of Australia Medal for locating the wrecks of HMAS Sydney in 2008 and AHS Centaur in 2009. In 2015 he was a member of Paul Allen’s team that successfully located the wreck of the Japanese super battleship MUSASHI and recovered the bell of HMS Hood on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence.
It will be interesting to see where these artifacts finally find a home. Will it be the source country of the artifact? Does the source country still exist? Will the artifacts go to a museum in the country it was found in? There are so many ways to argue where the actual artifacts will eventually be displayed.
For more information on the wreckage click here for the full article and links to the excavation on the National Geographic website.