When you think of buried treasure you think of classic tales of piracy and the sort of stories of fantasy and adventure that you usually have to check out on the big screen in the latest block busting movie experience.
However many of the kinds of stories we’ve been able to enjoy in theatres, like those featured in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise or even the ‘Indiana Jones’ saga, have always been based around some legendary artefact whether this was real or even just an aspect of mythology.
So can you imagine what you would do if you did actually come across a long lost relic or shipwreck? Well a group of miners in Southern Africa have done exactly that.
Diamond miners in Namibia uncovered a long-lost shipwreck estimated to be more than 500 years old at the bottom of a lagoon near where they were working.
The ship is said to be the Bom Jesus, translated as the “Good Jesus”, a Portuguese trader ship which would have been filled with ivory, gold, tin and copper.
The ship is believed to have gone down near Namibia back in 1533 as it headed to towards India. It went down along the Skeleton Coast, a particularly perilous stretch of coast which was even known to many Portuguese sailors at the time as “the Gates of Hell.”
The “Good Jesus” was discovered under the ocean floor after the lagoon was drained in order for the workers to continue mining. After almost a week from the original discovery a treasure chest was also uncovered within the wreck.
It was a chest that contained many Spanish and Portuguese gold coins estimated to have a value of around $13 million in today’s market.
It is believed that the wreck was preserved by copper ingots found amongst the cargo on the ship and there was around 22 tonnes of it aboard.
This meant that any underwater life or organisms would have been put off destroying or feeding on certain relics because of the repulsive elements found in the copper. In fact had it not been for the inclusion of the copper on board many of these fascinating finds may not have been possible at all.
Typically under maritime law any treasure that happens to be recovered from the seas or oceans will belong to the country who owns the waters in question. That is of course unless the vessel itself was classed as a ship of state, which this was, so in fact the “Good Jesus” would have been legal property of the Portuguese government.
In this case however the Portuguese have waived their rights to the fortune and this means that the wreck and its entire contents can be claimed by the Namibian government.
It’s not every day that you would expect to go to work then come across an unexpected desert treasure but it does raise the question as to just how many potentially lost and ancient shipwrecks are still hiding beneath the surface of our planet.