Identification of Vasco da Gama's Lost Ships Esmeralda and São Pedro

Author(s): Alexzandra M Hildred; Heather A. Stewart

Year: 2018


In 1998 the search began for two Portuguese vessels lost off the coast of Oman in 1503. Detailed analysis of primary and secondary sources describing the sinking included topographic, climatological and demographic information led to a bay on the NE coast of Al Hallaniyah Island.  Visual searches revealed types of shot only known in 15/16th  century contexts.  Excavation in 2013 /2014 yielded 975 composite shot found within a large concretion in a shallow gully together with 20 powder chambers for swivel guns, 19 of cast bronze and one of iron.  The assemblage of chambers (many still sealed and containing gunpowder) together with the shot for them is unprecedented.  The study of the assemblage provides information on consistency in material production and manufacturing as well as ore provenance. Results of analysis of the lead ores is consistent with Portuguese trading patterns with some ores attributed to mines within Spain and Portugal.

Cite this Record

Identification of Vasco da Gama's Lost Ships Esmeralda and São Pedro. Alexzandra M Hildred, Heather A. Stewart. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441908)


1503 Esmeralda Ordnance

Geographic Keywords
United Kingdom Western Europe

Temporal Keywords
sixteenth century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -8.158; min lat: 49.955 ; max long: 1.749; max lat: 60.722 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 531