Vasco da Gama Esmeralda Shipwreck Discovered off Hallaniyah Island, Oman

Posted on March 28, 2016

Esmeralda shipwreck

A Portuguese East Indiaman from the 1502–1503 Fleet of Vasco da Gama has been discovered off Hallaniyah Island, Oman. It was investigated by archaeologists from Oman's Ministry of Heritage & Culture (MHC) in cooperation with Blue Water Recoveries Ltd (BWR). The ship is believed to be the nau Esmeralda. It reportedly sank in a storm in May 1503.

The researchers say the ship is the earliest ship from Europe's Age of Discovery ever to be found. The wreck was initially discovered in 1998 by BWR. Excavation of the site began in 2013 and over 2,800 artifacts have been recovered from the site. The artifacts include important copper-alloy disc marked with the Portuguese royal coat of arms, a bronze bell with a 1498 inscription, gold cruzado coins and a rare silver coin commissioned by Dom Manuel.

Bell from the Esmeralda shipwreck

A research paper containing details of the wreck site was published here in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. A website about the shipwreck can be found at

Photos: Oman's Ministry of Heritage

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