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27-Jul-2016 12:33

Both ships left Lisbon in 1503, and were stationed to protect Portuguese factories off the coast of India from Muslim merchants, who up until da Gama’s newly found southern route, controlled all trade from India to the West.

They have published their preliminary findings in The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, although with thousands of objects to get through, the work is far from complete.The Esmeralda was actually one of two Portuguese trade ships to have met their end in the storm that hit the Al Hallaniyah islands off southern Oman, the other being the Sao Pedro that was driven ashore, where the crew were able to disembark.Now researchers have discovered a shipwreck dating from just five years after da Gama made this first voyage to the East, in what is thought to be the earliest ship ever found from the Age of Discovery.Lying in coastal waters just off Oman, the wreck is thought to be that of the Esmeralda, which was destroyed in a storm that killed all the crew on board including the captain, Vicente Sodre, who was an uncle of da Gama.

In a bid to find a maritime trade route from Europe to the spice markets of India during the mid-15th century, many nations sent explorers out onto the high seas during what is known as the Age of Discovery.These exploits were met with limited success – with Columbus famously ending up in the Americas – until the legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama finally cracked it in 1498, navigating the entire coast of the African continent to make port at Calicut, now modern-day Kozhikode, India.