Diamond miners found something even more valuable (and more awesome) than diamonds buried in the Namibian Desert — a 500-year-old shipwreck. The Portuguese ship was found when the miners emptied a man-made lagoon and uncovered bits of wood, metal, some mysterious half spheres. The miners quickly notified Dr. Dieter Noli, the head archaeologist of the Southern Africa Institute of Maritime Archaeological Research, who immediately recognized the metal artifacts as 16th-century weaponry. The ship, called The Bom Jesus (or Good Jesus), is the oldest shipwreck ever found in the area and carried an enormous and valuable cargo. The archaeologists found 44,000 lbs of copper, swords, ivory, tin, and $13,000,000 worth of gold coins, as well as many other artifacts like 500-year-old cannons, muskets, and pieces of the ship itself. The researchers think that a combination of bad weather and heavy cargo caused the ship to beach in the shallow area near the shore called the “surf zone,” where it was then broken apart by the pounding of waves. It seems the treasure chest broke free and sank to the bottom where is was then covered by parts of the disintegrating ship. Although the ship at one point belonged to the King of Portugal, the Namibian government gets to keep all the gold and artifacts.
I can only imagine the poor messenger who was tasked with telling the King of Portugal that he had lost millions of dollars worth of gold because of some fog and waves. That must have been a bad day for everyone.
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