Roots Of The Maritime Route
Remains of a ship – carrying Indian spices and various other items almost four centuries ago – have recently been found near the coast of Portugal. The marine archaeologists have speculated that the vessel was on its way to Portugal with materials from India.
Some archaeologists believe that it’s the “discovery of the decade“. They also believe that the shipwrecks would provide different types of information about the old ‘spice routes‘ between India and Europe.
The Portuguese divers found the shipwrecks near the coast of Cascais, 15 miles west of Lisbon, in the first week of September. However, the government of Portugal revealed the detailed information and some relevant images a couple of days ago!
The ship is about 100m long and 50m wide. The initial investigation has helped the archaeologists confirm that it was a merchant ship, as they found various Indian spices, nine bronze cannons engraved with the Portuguese coat of arms, Chinese ceramics and cowry shells in and around the shipwrecks, lying 12m below the surface.
It is to be noted that cowry shells is a type of currency used to trade slaves before the colonial era at some places. The archaeologists have predicted that the vessel might have sunk near Lisbon after returning from India. However, it is still not clear whether the Portuguese people were involved in slave trade.
The name or identity of the ship is still unknown. Project Director Jorge Freire and his team believe that the ship was capsized between 1575 and 1625, when Portugal’s spice trade with India was at its peak. He said that the wreck was found as part of a 10-year-old archaeological project backed by the Municipal Council of Cascais, the Navy, the Portuguese government and Lisbon-based Nova University.
Ancient spice routes
Meanwhile, Portuguese Minister of Culture Luis Mendes said: “For a long time, specialists have considered the mouth of the Tagus River a hotspot for shipwrecks. This discovery came to prove it.”
It seems that with this discovery extended to further researches in this regard should unearth the maritime trade routes and other details that started (perhaps) from Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India via the Cape of Good Hope in 1498.
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