Digital Library

Al Hallaniyah Shipwreck

Filipe Castro


Country: Oman
Place: Al Hallaniyah
Coordinates: Lat. – ; Long.  
Type: Unknown
Identified: Esmeralda or São Pedro, 1503. (tentatively)
Dated: Early 16th century


The Al Hallaniyah ship was almost certainly one of the ships lost by the Sodré brothers at Curia Muria Island (today Al Hallaniyah, Oman) in 1503.

We believe that this ship left Lisbon in February 1502, with the second fleet of Vasco da Gama (1460s-1524), and was part of a fleet of five ships that were sent by the crown to stay in India and disrupt, under the command of Vicente Sodré (1460s-1503), and disrupt the maritime trade between India and the Red Sea.  Vicente Sodré and his brother Brás supposedly carried out their orders, but the only first-hand account we have of their mission was written by one of the captains in the fleet, Pêro (Pedro) de Ataíde, a bitter enemy of both the Sodré brothers.  The account is full of accusations of treason and incompetence, and we will never know what really happened.

In any event, it seems that Vicente Sodré and his brother Brás ignored the advice of local inhabitants, left their ships – Esmeralda and São Pedro – anchored at a place exposed to the North wind, and lost them in a storm. It seems that both Vicente and Brás Sodré lost their lives in the storm, or soon after.

The other ships of the fleet carried out intense salvage works on the vessels and sailed back to Cochi.

One of these two shipwrecks was found in 1998 by a British salvage company – Blue Water Recoveries – and excavated in collaboration with the government of Oman.


The joint Omani-British team was directed by David Mearns, the head of Blue Water Recoveries and British archaeologist David Parham, from Bournemouth University.


Ballast is not referred in the salvage accounts.


No anchors were found on the site.


No guns were reported found, but one iron and 19 copper-alloy breech chambers were recovered, together with three  copper alloy tubes that could be part of hand guns.  A large number of stone shot were recovered, both of limestone and igneous rocks, some of these engraved with the letters SA or perhaps VS, as the researchers associated with Blue Waters Recoveries suggested. Composite lead shot were also recovered from this site.


Most of the ship’s cargo was recovered right after the shipwrecks. Not a lot of cargo-related artifacts were found.   The ceramics are published (Casimiro 2018) and the coins, astrolabe, and bell also (Mearns et al. 2016).

Although there is no parallel for the disc that is believed to be an astrolabe, the ceramics, the coins, and the bell are consistent with an early 16th century Portuguese shipwreck, almost certainly one – or both – of the Sodré shipwreck sites.

Iron Concretions

Information of potential artifacts imprinted in iron concretions hasn’t been published.

Hull remains

No hull remains were reported.


Not reported.


Not reported.

Size and scantlings

No hull remains are reported.


No timbers were reported.


Casimiro, T., 2018. “Material Culture from the Al Hallaniyah Island Early
16th-Century Portuguese Indiaman Wreck-site,” IJNA 47.1: 182-202.

Mearns, D.L., Parham, D. and Frohlich, B., 2016. “A Portuguese East Indiaman  from the 1502–1503 Fleet of Vasco da Gama off Al Hallanuyah Island, Oman: an interim report.” IJNA 45.2, 331–351.

Pissara, J., 2001. A Armada da India. Computo, tipologia e funcionalidade das armadas de guerra portuguesas do Oriente (1501–1510). Unpublished MA dissertation, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa.