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NAMIBIA : Team Restarts Work At Shipwreck Site - UPDATES

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Bianca
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« on: September 20, 2008, 09:53:34 am »


           








                                       Namibia: Team Restarts Work At Shipwreck Site


 
 
 
 
The Namibian
(Windhoek)
11 September 2008
Werner Menges

A team of local and international experts visited the site this week after its sand covering was removed on Monday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Dr Peingeondjabi Shipoh, told The Namibian yesterday.

He said the team is expected to work at the site for a month or longer, depending on what they find at the spot.

 
The discovery of the remains of a wrecked ship, now believed to date from the 16th century, some 12 kilometres north of the Orange River near Oranjemund on April 1 has been trumpeted by diamond mining company Namdeb as Namibia's most important archaeological find of the century.

In an initial recovery of objects from the shipwreck site during April, artefacts that included thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins, minted in the late 1400s and early 1500s, bronze cannons, more than 50 elephant tusks, several tons of copper, navigational instruments and pewter tableware were discovered at the site and removed for safekeeping.

The site lies under sea level in Namdeb's Mining Area 1, in an area where a huge sea wall had been built to keep back the ocean so that mining operations could be done.

The site was covered with sand again after the initial recovery of artefacts.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture on Tuesday, the wreck has been provisionally identified as a Portuguese trading vessel that foundered during an outward-bound voyage to Asia.

Except for more than 2 000 gold coins and 1,4 kilograms of silver coins, the ship carried a cargo of ivory, over 1 000 copper ingots and other metal ingots that still have to be identified, according to the Ministry.

The time of its sinking is estimated to have been between 1525 and the middle 1500s, the Ministry also stated.

Because of "the tremendous importance of this archaeological discovery", Government has decided to preserve the remains of the shipwreck and put these and its related archaeological materials on display once work on the find has been completed, according to the statement.

Government-supported excavation work at the site started on Monday, the Ministry stated.

Directing the work as the principal archaeologist on the project is Dr Bruno Werz of the Southern African Institute of Maritime Archaeology, while Dr Dieter Noli, who carried out preliminary excavations at the site during April, will also remain involved in the project.
 
The Ministry stated that, given the international value of the discovery, Government has also invited other scientists from Portugal, Spain, Zimbabwe and the Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at Texas A& M University in the United States of America to take part in the project.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2008, 08:57:57 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2008, 09:56:36 am »




           
« Last Edit: September 20, 2008, 10:01:19 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2008, 08:27:17 pm »













                                             Uncovering Namibia's sunken treasure 






By Frauke Jensen
BBC News,
Oranjemund,
Namibia 
sEPT. 25, 2008


A team of international archaeologists is working round the clock to rescue the wreck of what is thought to be a 16th Century Portuguese trading ship that lay undisturbed for hundreds of years off Namibia's Atlantic coast.

 


Recovered treasures include copper ingots, ivory and cannons.


The shipwreck, uncovered in an area drained for diamond mining, has revealed a cargo of metal cannonballs, chunks of wooden hull, imprints of swords, copper ingots and elephant tusks.

It was found in April when a crane driver from the diamond mining company Namdeb spotted some coins.

The project manager of the rescue excavation, Webber Ndoro, described the find as the "the most exciting archaeological discovery on the African continent in the past 100 years".

"This is perhaps the largest find in terms of artefacts from a shipwreck in this part of the world," he said.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2008, 08:29:41 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2008, 08:32:20 pm »









Skeleton coast



The ship may have been unable to withstand the currents in the volatile seas off the Namibian shore.

The area is also known as the Skeleton Coast and is associated with the skeletons of wrecked ships and past stories of sailors wandering through the barren landscape in search of food and water.

  "I am sure there will be many more wrecks to be found here"

Webber Ndoro
Project manager


Working out whose ship this was is no easy task.

Gold coins that the Portuguese crown began producing in October 1525 mean it could not have been the vessel of the famous seafarer Bartholomew Dias, who disappeared on one of his travels around the point of Africa in the year 1500.

But there are other pointers, including swivel-guns known to have been used by Portuguese and Spanish seafarers, and the boat's shape, indicating that it was a Portuguese "nau".

There are also copper ingots carrying a clearly visible trident seal that can be traced back to the German banker and merchant family of Jakob Fugger - the main suppliers of primary materials to the Portuguese crown.

Gold and silver coins have been deposited in a bank vault.




Copper ingots carry a trident seal used by the Fugger family


Rare navigational instruments have been sent to Portugal for research, while pewter plates and jugs, pieces of ceramic, tin blocks and elephant tusks are temporarily housed in a warehouse on the premises of the mining company.

Some are being freed of their layer of sand and salt to allow for more detailed scrutiny over their make and origin.

"It represents a very interesting cargo - we have goods from Asia, we have goods from Europe, we have goods from Africa," said Mr Ndoro.

"We always think that globalisation started yesterday but in actual fact here we are with something we can date to around 1500."
« Last Edit: September 26, 2008, 08:33:57 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2008, 08:36:52 pm »









Protected



The site is about 130km (80 miles) south of the Namibian harbour town Luderitz, in an area long sealed off for mining.

The mines are established by sea-walling the ocean and dredging the dry seabed for diamonds.




Portuguese gold coins are part of the recovered cargo


Pumps ensure the sea does not reclaim the land - an exercise that is costing thousands of dollars each week.

Bruno Werz, the archaeologist leading the excavations, said the shipwreck was particularly valuable because it had not been tampered with.

"This collection has not been disturbed by human interference," he said.

"We are very fortunate to have found an untouched wreck with all the material that was on site still here in one collection."

Archaeologists from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, the United States, the UK and Portugal are working on the excavation, which is due to be completed by mid-October.

Thereafter the detailed work of recording and preserving, which can take up to 30 years, can begin.

Stone and metal cannonballs and other artefacts are being covered with plastic and sand to protect them from sun and air.

Mr Ndoro said the shipwreck was a very important find for Africa.

"Here we have different African countries cooperating to make sure we have saved this ship and we have something we can show to the world."

"I am sure there will be many more wrecks to be found here," he added.

"Namibia should invest in training archaeologists."
« Last Edit: September 26, 2008, 08:38:08 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2008, 07:27:39 am »




                 

A golden coin recently found on a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck off Namibia's rough southern coast. Archaeologists are racing against the little time left to salvage the fortune in coins and items discovered.

(AFP/File/Werner Menges)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 07:28:43 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2008, 07:30:02 am »



               

A pewter bowl found on a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck off Namibia's rough southern coast. Archaeologists are racing against the little time left to salvage a fortune in coins and items from the vessel.

(AFP/File/Werner Menges)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 07:31:00 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2008, 07:32:23 am »




                 

vory elephant tusks found on a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck off Namibia's rough southern coast. Archaeologists are racing against the little time left to salvage a fortune in coins and items from the vessel.

(AFP/File/Werner Menges)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 07:33:21 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2008, 07:35:00 am »




               

Cannon balls found on a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck off Namibia's rough southern coast. Archaeologists are racing against the little time left to salvage a fortune in coins and items from the vessel.

(AFP/File/Werner Menges)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 07:36:00 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2008, 11:30:46 am »










                          Namibia: Race against time to save ancient Portuguese shipwreck





by Brigitte Weidlich
Sun Sep 29, 2008
 
ORANJEMUND, Namibia (AFP) - Archaeologists are racing against the little time left to salvage a fortune in coins and items from a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck found recently off Namibia's rough southern coast.
 
Despite its importance, the project, in a restricted diamond mining area, is itself costing a fortune in sea-walling that cannot be sustained after October 10.

"The vast amounts of gold coins would possibly make this discovery the largest one in Africa outside Egypt," said Francisco Alves, a Lisbon-based maritime archaeologist.

"This vessel is the best preserved of its time outside Portugal," he said.

"But the cultural uniqueness of this find is priceless."

Alves is part of a multi-national team combing the seabed where the wreck was discovered six months ago.

The 16th-century "Portuguese trade vessel was found by chance this April as mine workers created an artificial sand wall with bulldozers to push back the sea for diamond dredging," Namibian archaeologist Dieter Noli told reporters invited to view the site.

"One of them noticed an unusual wooden structure and round stones, which turned out to be cannon balls," he said.

The abundance of objects unearthed where the ship ran aground along Namibia's notorious Skeleton coast, where hundreds of vessels were wrecked over the centuries, has amazed even hardened experts.

Six bronze cannons, several tonnes of copper, huge elephant tusks, pewter tableware, navigational instruments, and a variety of weapons including swords, sabres and knives have all been tugged out of the beach sand.

"Over 2,300 gold coins weighing some 21 kilograms (46 pounds) and 1.5 kilograms of silver coins were found -- worth over 100 million dollars," Alves said, adding that the ship's contents suggest it was bound for India or somewhere in Asia.

"About 70 per cent of the gold coins are Spanish, the rest Portuguese," Alves said. Precise dating was possible thanks to examination of the coin rims that showed "some of them were minted in October 1525 in Portugal."

About 13 tonnes of copper ingots, eight tonnes of tin and over 50 large ivory elephant tusks together weighing some 600 kilograms have also been excavated from the seabed.

-- This discovery is the largest in Africa outside Egypt --

"The copper ingots are all marked with a trident indent, which was used by Germany's famous Fugger family of traders and bankers in Augsburg, who delivered to the Portuguese five centuries ago," said South African archaeologist Bruno Werz.

The team also includes experts from the United States and Zimbabwe, and the salvation efforts were made possible by the **** of sea walls to keep back the fierce Atlantic surf.

Namibia's culture ministry and Namdeb, the state diamond mining company, have shared the enormous expense, which "costs some 100,000 Namibian dollars (12,500 US dollars, 8,500 euros) per day," according to Peingeondjabi Shipoh, the culture ministry expert in charge of the recovery project.

But that is shortly coming to an end, even though "I believe there is still more to be found," he told reporters.

"From October 10, the walls will not be maintained anymore and the ship's remnants left to the elements again."

At one point it was thought the wreck was that of legendary Portuguese explorer Bartolomeo Diaz, the first known European to sail around the southern tip of Africa in 1488.

In line with the custom of Portuguese explorers of the time, Diaz left a huge stone cross to the glory of his country's king, called a "padrao", that same year at what is today's harbour town of Luderitz, which Diaz baptised Angra Pequena or "small cove", 750 kilometres (465 miles) southwest of the capital Windhoek.

Around 1500, he and his sailing vessel went missing and were never found.

But hope that the Oranjemund find might end the mystery was laid to rest when it was established that the coins on the shipwreck were put into circulation 25 years after Diaz' disappearance.

Under international maritime laws, a wreck and its treasures belong to the country where they were found, and all the coins are now locked in the vaults of the Bank of Namibia in Windhoek.

The government said it plans at some point to mount an exhibition of the findings and later erect a special museum in Oranjemund to house the incredible collection.
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« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2008, 08:59:22 am »











                                          Golden treasure hunt races against time and tide






Brigitte Weidlich,
Oranjemund,
Namibia
October 2, 2008




Archaeologist Bruno Werz holds astrolabes pulled from the seabed
off Namibia where a Portuguese ship sank 500 years ago.

Photo: Reuters


ARCHAEOLOGISTS are racing against time to salvage a fortune in coins and items from a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck found recently off Namibia's rough southern coast.

The project, in a restricted diamond mining area, is costing a fortune in sea-walling, but the process of maintaining a dyke to keep the sea at bay will end next Friday, surrendering what is left to the sea again.

"The vast amounts of gold coins would possibly make this discovery the largest one in Africa outside Egypt," Lisbon maritime archaeologist Francisco Alves said.

"This vessel is the best preserved of its time outside Portugal. But the cultural uniqueness of this find is priceless."

Mr Alves is part of a multi-national team combing the seabed where the wreck was discovered in April. The 16th-century Portuguese trade vessel was found by chance as mine workers created an artificial sand wall with bulldozers to push back the sea for diamond dredging, Namibian archaeologist Dieter Noli told reporters invited to view the site.

"One of them noticed an unusual wooden structure and round stones, which turned out to be cannonballs," he said.

The abundance of objects unearthed where the ship ran aground along Namibia's notorious Skeleton Coast, where hundreds of vessels were wrecked over the centuries, has amazed experts.

Six bronze cannon, several tonnes of copper, huge elephant tusks, pewter tableware, navigational instruments and a variety of weapons, including swords, sabres and knives, have been pulled from the sand.

More than 2300 gold coins weighing about 21 kilograms and 1.5 kilograms of silver coins had been found, Mr Alves said. The ship's contents suggest it was bound for India or Asia.

"About 70% of the gold coins are Spanish, the rest Portuguese," he said. Precise dating was possible thanks to examination of the coin rims, showing some were minted in October 1525 in Portugal.

About 13 tonnes of copper ingots, eight tonnes of tin and more than 50 large elephant tusks together weighing 600 kilograms have also been excavated from the seabed.
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2008, 09:04:13 am »










"The copper ingots are all marked with a trident indent, which was used by Germany's famous Fugger family of traders and bankers in Augsburg who delivered to the Portuguese five centuries ago," South African archaeologist Bruno Werz said.

The team includes experts from the United States and Zimbabwe. The salvation efforts were made possible by the **** of sea walls to keep back the fierce Atlantic surf.

Namibia's Culture Ministry and Namdeb, the state diamond mining company, had shared the expense, said Peingeondjabi Shipoh, the ministry expert in charge of the recovery project.

But that was coming to an end, even though "I believe there is still more to be found", he told reporters.

"From October 10, the walls will not be maintained any more and the ship's remnants left to the elements again."

At one point it was thought the wreck was the ship of legendary Portuguese explorer Bartolomeo Diaz, the first known European to sail around the southern tip of Africa in 1488.

In line with the custom of Portuguese explorers of the time, Diaz that year left a huge stone cross to the glory of his country's king, called a "padrao", at what is today's harbour town of Luderitz, which Diaz baptised Angra Pequena, or "small cove", 750 kilometres south-west of the capital, Windhoek.

Around 1500, he and his sailing vessel went missing and were never found.

But hope that the Oranjemund find might resolve the mystery ended when it was established that the coins on the shipwreck were put into circulation 25 years after Diaz's disappearance.

Under international maritime laws, a wreck and its treasures belong to the country where they were found, and all the coins are now locked in the vaults of the Bank of Namibia in Windhoek.

The Government said it planned to mount an exhibition of the findings and later build a museum in Oranjemund to house the incredible collection.

AFP
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« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2008, 05:20:41 pm »










                    All gold from Portuguese shipwreck to be recovered by deadline: ministry






Oct. 1, 2008
LISBON
(AFP)

All the contents of a 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck discovered by chance off Namibia will be salvaged by the end of next week, the ministry of culture in Lisbon said Wednesday.

Archaeologists from Portugal, Namibia, the United States and Zimbabwe are working to raise the cargo, which included hundreds of gold coins, before October 10, which Namibian officials said was a deadline imposed by the huge costs involved.

However the Portuguese culture ministry said the deadline had been October 2, because weather conditions were expected to put a stop to work by that date.

Now new forecasts of good weather had enabled the date to be put back to October 10, it said.

Last week, the Namibian culture ministry said the rescue operation was costing some 100,000 Namibian dollars (12,500 dollars, 8,500 euros) per day.

All that is keeping the wreck intact is an artificial sand wall created by mine workers with bulldozers to push back the sea for diamond dredging.

The Portuguese government said that its "fundamental interest" is "to guarantee the complete protection" of the ship and the adjacent sea-bed's remaining cargo.

The ship was found in April during the diamond dredging operation.

It contained over 2,300 gold coins weighing some 21 kilograms (46 pounds), six bronze cannons, silver, several tonnes of copper, huge elephant tusks and a variety of weapons.

"The relics will be rescued by the expected date for the end of the operations," a spokesman for the Portuguese ministry of culture told AFP.

The abundance of objects unearthed where the ship ran aground along Namibia's notorious Skeleton coast, where hundreds of vessels were wrecked over the centuries, has amazed even hardened experts.

Under international maritime laws, a wreck and its treasures belong to the country where they were found, and the initial haul of coins is now locked in the vaults of the Bank of Namibia in Windhoek.

The government said it plans at some point to mount an exhibition of the findings and later erect a special museum in Oranjemund to house the incredible collection.
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2008, 04:27:29 pm »










                             Namibia: End of Shipwreck Dig, Start of Years of Study


 
 
   
 
The Namibian (Windhoek)
24 October 2008
Werner Menges

EXCAVATIONS at the site where the remains of a centuries-old shipwreck were discovered near Oranjemund almost seven months ago have ended - and now the real work of studying what has
been hailed as Namibia's most exciting archaeological discovery in decades at least is set to start.

The shipwreck site, discovered on April 1 and since then shielded from the Atlantic Ocean by a huge wall of sand that diamond mining company Namdeb constructed as part of its beach mining activities along the coast, has now been surrendered to the sea again.

 
The archaeological dig at the site ended successfully on October 10, archaeologist Bruno Werz from
the Southern African Institute of Maritime Archaeology told The Namibian in a telephone interview yesterday.

Werz, who led the excavations at the site during April and again from September 8, said the last piece of timber of the structure of the ship that met its end on that stretch of Namibia's desert coast was removed from the site on October 9.

All parts of the wreck that were still present at the site were removed, with more than 95 per cent
of the shipwreck material recovered before the site had to be abandoned, he said.

Thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins, hundreds of kilograms of ivory, tons of copper and
tin ingots, the weathered remains of cannons, navigational instruments, tableware and personal
effects that must have belonged to the sailors who were on board the ship when it foundered, have been recovered from the site.

Werz estimated that a substantial part of the ship's cargo, a good cross section of personal effects
of the ship's crew, and about a sixth of the length and a sixth of the height of the structure of the ship, which is thought to have been about 30 metres long, were recovered.

Werz said the team that had been involved in the dig were exhausted but also elated as their month-long work at the site came to an end.

With their work at the site completed, Namdeb carried out its planned mining in the area last week, after which the pumps that had used to keep the site dry were switched off and the maintenance
of the wall of sand that pushed back the ocean from the site was stopped, Werz said.

Seawater has since then been seeping in under the sea wall, and the site is now under water again.

One good storm, and the sea wall should be gone, Werz said.
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2008, 04:29:39 pm »




             









For the archaeologists and the rest of the team that has been working at the site, the real work of studying this discovery is only starting now, Werz said.

The ship's Portuguese origin, and that it had been on an outbound voyage from Portugal, has been confirmed so far, but its name and the date on which it met its end still have to be established with certainty, he indicated.

At this stage, though, it is thought that the ship dates back to the 1530s or 1540s, he said.

Werz said the excavation would actually end up being only a small part of the project of the study of the wreck.

Four people have now begun to make a more detailed inventory of the items recovered from the site.
 
This task is scheduled to continue for the next two weeks still, he said.
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