Shipwreck - a gold mine for thrilled archaeologist

By Rowan Philp

Dieter Noli thought a small bag would be sufficient to hold priceless gold coins from the shipwreck.

Within an hour, he realised he needed to use his Stetson hat.

But by the end of the day, the archaeologist needed a bucket to hold the ship’s treasure, as 2500 coins, minted around 1500AD for Spain’s Queen Isabella, emerged from the Namibian sea bed.

Unearthed by a De Beers mining operation on the Namibian coast this month, the ship — thought to be a Columbus-era Portuguese explorer — has been hailed as the greatest maritime archaeological discovery in Southern Africa.

The unusually large store of gold also represents one of its greatest mysteries since the vessel, which was “armed to the teeth”, was already on its way home, fully laden with an equally mysterious cargo.

Noli, 52, said it was “the most gold ever found at an archaeological site in Africa since the huge find at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt”.

treasure Portugal Africa Namibia

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