Taking a short break from their busy schedule of exploitation and war-fomenting, diamond cartel De Beers has found a late 15th/early 16th c. shipwreck laden with bronze cannon, gold coins and elephant tusks off the coast of Namibia.
The site yielded a wealth of objects, including several tons of copper, more than 50 elephant tusks, pewter tableware, navigational instruments, weapons and the gold coins, which were minted in the late 1400s and early 1500s, according to the statement.
The Namibian government will claim ownership of the treasure found, Halifa Mbako, group corporate affairs manager at Namdeb, said in a telephone interview from Windhoek today.
According to company sources, the human remains and royal artifacts suggest that the ship might have belonged to Portuguese aristocrat Bartolomeu Dias whose caravel sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1500.
Dias was not only the first European to sail around the Cape of Good Hope in 1487, but he charted the trade routes to Asia later used by Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral. He also accompanied de Gama on his voyage to India and Cabral on the voyage that inadvertently resulted in their discovering Brasil.