Museum planned for the Oranjemund shipwreck collections
WINDHOEK, Aug 2 — The government is planning to build a museum to conserve collections from a shipwreck discovered along the coastline of Oranjemund four years ago, Namibia Press Agency reported.
“We will build a museum so that the world can come and enjoy, educate and entertain themselves,” said Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture Pohamba Shifeta on Wednesday during the official opening of a stakeholders workshop for the Oranjemund shipwreck collections.
The shipwreck was discovered in April 2008 inside Namdeb’s Mining Area 1 along the southern Sperrgebiet coast with gold coins and hundreds of mint-condition silver pieces retrieved.
Other artefacts among the shipwreck were ivory tusks, thousands of Portuguese and Spanish gold and silver coins minted in late 1400 and early 1500, pewterware as well as astrolabes, the only navigational tools found on the wreck.
Namibian heritage laws provide automatic ownership of the treasures to the Namibian government.
At the workshop, discussions on the envisaged museum included deliberations on conserving and researching the shipwreck, letting the world know about the shipwreck and local economic development.
“The government will ensure that small businesses such as tour guides and other operations are developed, while continuing to build capacity in underwater archaeology both in conservation and research,” said Shifeta.
It is believed that the ship had run aground due to bad weather, as the coast was notorious for fierce, disorienting storms.
The origin of the find, however, remains a mystery.
Reports speculate that the wreck might have come from the fleet of four Portuguese ships led by Bartholomeu Dias in the 15th and 17th centuries that met a storm off the Cape of Good Hope in May 1500.
Dias’s caravel was part of a fleet of a dozen ships that set sail from Portugal in the first half of 1500 under the stewardship of highly respected sailor Pedro Alvarez Cabral, who stumbled on Brazil after becoming lost at sea. — Bernama