Nigerian miners employed by diamond company De Beers, have stumbled across a 500 year old Portugese Shipwreck in the Nigerian desert containing upwards of £9million (A$15.8M) in gold coins and other artefacts.
Archaeologists say the wreck is that of the Bom Jesus, a ship which set sail from Lisbon in 1533 and disappeared with its entire crew on board near the Namibian diamond mining town of Oranjemund, on the way to India.
Archaeologists believe it may be worth more to science.
Archaeologists have also uncovered bones, clothing, and navigational tools, among other things. and say that the other items alone could be worth even more academically, than the gold.
The wreck also contained German copper ingots, West African ivory, Portuguese, Spanish, Florentine and Venetian gold and silver currency, weapons, including swords and knives, clothing, and, of course, skeletons.
The wreck was found by the miners as they drained a man-made salt-water lake along the Skeleton Coast. While plenty of shipwrecks have been discovered along the stretch, this was the oldest and the first to be loaded down with coin and ivory tusks.
They did not immediately find the treasure it contained – first, they discovered strange pieces of wood and metal along the beach, before discovering the shipwreck buried under the sand.
It was not until the sixth day of digging that the miners finally came across the wreck. Archaeologist Dr. Dieter Noli has worked with the miners since 1996 and told reporters that he always thought they’d find a shipwreck.
So what happens to the gold now?
Portugal had the first rights to the shipwreck, but according to Dr. Noli, “the Portuguese government very generously waived that right, allowing Namibia to keep the lot.”
Story originally from the Daily Mail UK.