April Fool's Day sunken treasure find is biggest African gold cache since the pyramids
On April 1, 2008, a mining operation with De Beers discovered a 500-year old sunken ship's remains off the coast of Namibia. The ship is completely destroyed, but the extremely rare gold coins, in numbers that are unusual for this type of ship at the time, are intact and still being found by the score.
It is, according to archaeologist Dieter Noli, the largest find of gold in Africa since the discovery of the so-called Valley of the Pharaohs in Egypt. It is also being called the greatest maritime discovery ever in southern Africa. Namibia lies on Africa's Atlantic coast next to South Africa.
Mystery surrounds the ship. Not only has it not been identified, but the story of how it came to rest off the coast of Namibia, and why it was so laden with gold coins, have experts baffled. Its weapons arsenal is full of weapons that, even at the time, were outdated, suggesting a hasty stocking of the arsenal by a perhaps desperate captain — or the pirate who had assumed the position of captain after a high-seas battle, only to lose the ship and his life through recklessness or being overpowered.
It is thought to be a Portuguese ship; the coins were minted in the 1500s in honor of the Spanish queen. Everyone loves a good pirate-type mystery, so the legend is growing day by day. The boat appears to have been sunk by a large rock that still rests nearby. Human remains have also been unearthed at the site, including toes still attached to part of a shoe.
Aside from the gold bounty, other treasures such as swords, muskets, cannons, tons of copper and another metal, possibly tin. International experts have been called upon to help identify the ship and shed some light onto its mysterious fate.