Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 10:45 UK

Namibia finds treasure shipwreck

An archeologist holds a Spanish gold coin and three Portuguese silver coins and brass dividers found in the wreck in Namibia
Thousands of coins were found at the site of the wreck

A 500-year-old shipwreck laden with treasure has been discovered off the coast of Namibia.

The country's diamond company, Namdeb, says it found the wreck during operations on the seabed.

The find includes three bronze cannons, thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins, and several tonnes of elephant tusks.

There were also human remains and navigational instruments. Excavations in the area were halted immediately.

Archaeological experts have identified the cannons as coming from early 16th-Century Spain.

It is thought to be the oldest shipwreck ever discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Namdeb said it came across the wreck on April 1 during operations in the Atlantic after finding some copper ingots and the cannons.

The company is speculating that the ship may be linked to Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, who went missing in 1500 after becoming the first European seafarer to round the Cape of Good Hope.

Namdeb spokesman Hilifa Mbako said the Portuguese and Spanish governments had been alerted and they expected a team of experts to be dispatched to the site shortly for further investigations.

"The shipwreck holds more questions than answers," he said.

Namdeb is a joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government.

Country profile: Namibia
16 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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