Digital Library

IDM-007 Shipwreck

Filipe Castro


Country: Mozambique
Place: Ilha de Moçambique
Coordinates: Lat. ; Long.
Type: Unknown
Identified: No
Dated: The treasure hunters believed this to be a homeward-bound ship from the XVI or XVII centuries, based on the nature of the artifacts and the jewelry items found.


This shipwreck was located in 2001, partly excavated in 2002 and, according to Alejandro Mirabal, surveyed again from the 3rd to the 11th of September of 2003, when a number of test pits were opened and a survey with metal detectors reassessed the site.

The only visible objects on this site were two ballast mounds, distant around 15 m, with medium to large stones (between 20 cm and 45 cm diameter). Loose stones were scattered between the two main ballast piles.

Under the larger ballast pile part of the ship’s hull structure was visible. The smaller ballast pile was located at approximately 15 m to the West of the first one. As mentioned, there is a scatter of ballast stones between the two mounds. Lead sheathing was apparent allover the area and, according to the report, also a few sheets of copper sheathing.

A test pit opened 2 m to the NE of the larger ballast pile exposed wooden planks and iron concretions under around 10 cm of sand.

This site was described as having “volcanic blowholes filled with wreck material.” Again, according to the report, the holes were often more than 1 m deep and called for increased attention.

In total 14 selected blowholes were excavated to the maximum depth that could be reached with Arqueonautas equipment, or around 90 cm deep. typically, each hole “contained some lead seals, several fragments of coarse ware, a few fragments of glass (generally green), lead sheathing, small ballast stones, [gold] nuggets and beads.” The largest objects were found in the upper layers of sediment in the crevices, and gold nuggets, as well as gold dust, appeared on the bottom.

The similarity of the finds in both ballast piles and the ballast itself suggested that both ballast piles were probably part of the same shipwreck,  but Mr. Mirabal thought that further research should be carried out in order to establish or discard this hypothesis.

During the assessment of this site one gold pendant with two cosmetic tools, one pewter spoon with a coat of arms, two gold earrings, 15 gold buttons, 40 gold beads and 4 gr of gold nuggets were recovered.

The site was deemed uninteresting for salvage due to the nature of the artifacts recovered, the nature of the seabed, which made it unlikely to find anything outside of the blowholes – generally small, with 25 to 30 cm – or at least artifacts in a good state of preservation. As the site was located in shallow water and in the proximity of the fortress, the treasure hunters considered the possibility that the shipwreck had been extensively salvaged already.


This site was surveyed and salvaged by a team from Arqueonautas SA., a treasure hunting company that operated in Mozambique from 2001 to 2015.


The ballast stones were concentrated on two piles,a s mentioned above, with a scatter between them, suggesting that this shipwreck was salvaged before. The stones varied in diameter from 10 to 60 cm.  According to Mr. Mirabal, many of these stones were rectangular with smooth edges but clearly shaped to fit better inside the hull. Their color was mostly dark grey and black, but there were often visible “the typical patterns of the marble in lighter grey tones or even in brown color.”


Not mentioned.


Not mentioned.

Iron Concretions

Mentioned but not described.

Hull remains

No hull remains were reported.


Not reported.


Not reported.

Size and scantlings

Not reported.


No timbers were reported.


Mirabal, Alejandro,