Miners on the edge of the Namibian desert have discovered a 500-year-old shipwreck stuffed with millions of pounds of treasure.
According to the Huffington Post, the ship – found on Namibia’s ‘Skeleton Coast’ – was loaded with £9 million of gold coins, skeletons, copper ingots, elephant tusks and cannons.
Experts now believe it to be The Bom Jesus – a Portuguese ship captained by Sir Francisco de Noronha, that went missing while on its way to India from Lisbon in 1533.
Archaeologist Dr Dieter Noli is now trying to work out what happened to the ill-fated ship and why so much of its haul is in such good condition.
He told CNN:
We figured out the ship came in, it hit a rock and it leaned over.
The superstructure started breaking up and the chest with the coins was in the captain’s cabin, and it broke free and fell to the bottom of the sea intact.
A very heavy part of the ship fell on the chest and bent some of the coins. You can see the force by which the chest was hit, but it also protected it.
Apparently shipwrecks are incredibly common on the Skeleton Coast – hence its name – and though Dr Noli was expecting the miners to unearth something, no one was prepared for the amount of treasure they discovered.
He told FoxNews:
I had been preaching to them for a dozen years that one day they would find a shipwreck.
When asked what exactly I was really expecting to find, I said ‘a Spanish sword and a bag of gold’.
UNESCO has now placed the wreck under protection and it’s reported Namibia will keep the haul as Portugal has waived its rights to the treasure.
Manchester University Professor, Timothy Insoll, a specialist in African archaeology, told The Independent:
The mix of discoveries is particularly impressive – and the bones can give archaeologists an idea of the sailors’ typical diet, for example.
This is just the latest of several shipwrecks discovered in the region in recent years but it’s now the oldest, the previous being the shell of The Vlissingen – which sank in 1747.