Shipwreck’s “Chest of Gold” Find Could Uncover a Mystery from the 16th Century
When a worker in Africa discovered a lot of peculiar artifacts, archaeologists were contacted, which led to the discovery of what may be one of the most important shipwrecks ever.
A German treasure hunter discovered a diamond in the Namibian Desert more than a century ago, in what became known as the Sperrgebiet, or “forbidden land.” The region became a renowned off-limits zone near the mouth of the Orange River, and the Namibian government and the international mining hunting business De Beers acquired control of it. But during his shift, one worker unearthed treasure that had been missing for over 500 years, finding something far more priceless than diamonds. He brought in archaeologists after becoming perplexed by the presence of the pipes, metal, and wood fragments.
When Dieter Noli first took in the picture, he recalled seeing an ancient ᴍᴜsᴋᴇᴛ and elephant tusks. In 2016, he remarked: “It just looked like a beach that had been disturbed, yet there were parts and pieces there.
“Oh, oh no, this is obviously a shipwreck,” I thought. Archaeologists say they have identified one of the most significant shipwrecks ever after digging in the region. Evidence implies the ship is The Bom Jesus (The Good Jesus), a Portuguese ship bound for India that never made it through the Southern Atlantic, yet they are unable to conclusively establish it.
Historians have dated the ship to between 1525 and 1538 because it was carrying thousands of pure gold pieces from Portugal and Spain that were in mint condition.
A rare book from the 16th century called “Memorias Das Armadas” describes the cargo on the ship, including a chest full of money, as matching that of The Bom Jesus, which is listed as lost. “We determined the ship came in, hit a rock, and leaned over,” Mr. Noli continued. The box containing the money, which was in the captain’s cabin as the superstructure began to collapse, broke loose and plummeted intact to the ocean’s floor. A very large portion of the ship’s side that was splitting apart ᴄʀᴀsʜᴇᴅ on the chest, crushing some of the money.
There were found to be 44,000 pounds of copper ingots.
The power with which the chest was struck is visible, yet it also served to protect the chest. 44,000 pounds of copper ingots were found among the haul of gold, tin, and ivory, and marine archaeologist Bruno Werz believes that these ingots may have been crucial to the ship’s preservation. “Organic creatures would have ordinarily consumed the remnants of the wood,” he added.
But some of those materials would have been protected by the toxin. The wreckage of the ship is currently guarded by the security of the diamond mine. As they have been for hundreds of years, wood, muskets, cannonballs, and swords are kept wet. Most of them uncover remnants that are hidden from view, much like the mysterious location where it was found.