Vasco da Gama Esmeralda shipwreck

possibly the oldest wreck ever found from Europe’s initial period of colonization in Asia

The Esmeralda shipwreck is one of the earliest shipwrecks from the start of Portugal’s entry into the Arabia Sea.

There can have been few countries whose population exploded around the world as quickly or indeed violently as the Portuguese. From a small insignificant land on the edge of Europe, they swept into East Asia. Leading the charge in many respects was Vasco de Gama who crossed the Arabian Sea in 1498 with four small ships, landing into the Indian port of Calicut. In 1502 he also led the 4th Portuguese fleet into the region, this time with the clear intention to subjugate the coastal populations. This was largely to monopolise trade destined for Europe, rather than it flowing through Ottoman and Venetian ships, and additionally in retaliation for military defeats in the Arabian Sea during the previous years.

Vicente Sodré
Vicente Sodré

His fleet was of 20 ships, indicative of the value of the potential trade, as well as the numbers of ships lost during the previous annual sailings from Portugal that made larger numbers of ships essential to achieve success. Vasco de Gama returned Continue reading “Vasco da Gama Esmeralda shipwreck”