MARITIME NEWS | Treasure on board Portuguese shipwreck salvaged

WINDHOEK, Aug 19 (NNN-AFROLNEWS) — After almost two years, international archaeologists and conservators have successfully salvaged the wreck believed to be the 16th century Portuguese shipwreck that lay undisturbed for 500 years off Namibia’s Atlantic Coast near Oranjemund.

The sunken ship’s rich treasure includes a total of 2,266 gold and silver coins that were found underneath the planks of the sunken ship.

They largely consist of Portuguese and Spanish gold coins, and presently are in safe custody at Bank of Namibia.

The project manager of the rescue excavation, Dr Webber Ndoro, said the gold coins weighting about 21 kg represent one of the worlds’ greatest recent finds of lost treasure.

“A single excavation never got behind 12 kg,” said Ndoro.

Besides the treasure, artifacts found among the remains of the sunken ship bound for Asia from Portugal were metal ingots, elephant tusks, cannons and cannon balls, navigational instruments, food residues and part of the structure of the ship.

The shipwreck was discovered by Namdeb worker Kapaandu Shatika on April, 1, 2008.

Ndoro described the find as “biggest in Africa and the world in terms of artifacts and gold coins quantity”.

Ndoro said the long and arduous process to conserve the artifacts for the future has started now.

According to Ndoro, the project team aims to catalogue coins and artifacts, set up an electronic date for artifacts, established a secure permanent storage, and to train Namibian to inform local and international communities.

Presently the artifacts coins are being stored at rehabilitated Namdeb building which is located in the mining restricted area.

Officiating at the conservation ceremony held at Oranjemund on Wednesday, Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, noted the country has enacted legislation National Heritage Act of 2004- for the protection of terrestrial and underwater heritage.

“This Act empowers the Ministry to see to it that sound heritage stewardship is adhered to,” he added.

Stressing that heritage is immensely significant to all kind of humanity, Shifeta said: “To some, investing in securing a country’s heritage as we did with this shipwreck represents a waste of a country’s meager resources without any tangible returns. However, this is a misguided opinion”.

The Youth Minister also revealed that that an old power station building at Oranjemund will be converted into a museum where shipwreck artifacts would be exhibited.

Pohamba has expressed gratitude to Namdeb, and all international partners for their assistance to help conserve the shipwreck collections.

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