In Namibia, race to save ancient Portuguese shipwreck





ORANJEMUND, Namibia -- 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...

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...

The abundance of objects unearthed where the ship ran aground along Namibia's notorious Skeleton coast...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.



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