Miners of the famous De Beers diamond group were draining a salt lake not far from the Skeleton Coast, South Africa, where merchant ships often disappeared in the Middle Ages. The employees accidentally spotted a ship that had been missing for five centuries and had holds full of gold and jewelry under a layer of sand.
In 1533, the Portuguese ship Bom Jesus sailed to India with a cargo of 90,000 lbs of gold coins, 100 elephant tusks, and precious gems. The ship never reached its destination, but the information about it remained in many historical documents since the lost treasure was considered one of the largest in the world.
Of course, the diamond miners had absolutely no idea that while doing their chores they would find a ship that had been missing for five centuries.
A scientific team headed by Dieter Noli, chief archaeologist at the South African Institute of Maritime Archaeology, arrived at the site of the find.
He theorized that the ship did not accidentally come ashore. The cargo was very heavy and the captain, caught in bad weather, may have decided to set bow anchors and moor the Bom Jesus close to the shore. After that a storm may have broken out and thrown the ship over the surf line.
All other work at the site was stopped immediately. On the sixth day, the miners took the first chest full of gold out of the hold. After a while they found the elephant ivory and the larger part of the treasure. The local authorities declared themselves the owners of the ship. The Portuguese representatives preferred to step aside.
Almost all of the treasure found was put up for auction. The total value of the cargo was $13 million.
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