National Geographic : 2009 Oct
• ports of call, part of the Portuguese vernacular, thanks to Portuguese ingenuity and cutting- edge technology. e outbound ships that sailed down the Ta- gus River in 1533 were sturdy and capable; two of them were brand-new and owned by the king himself. One of these was the Bom Jesus---the Good Jesus---captained by one Dom Francisco de Noronha and carrying 300 or so sailors, sol- diers, merchants, priests, nobles, and slaves. and a story to an anonymous, ve-centuries-old shipwreck found unexpect- edly on a far- ung shore takes canny sleuthing and more than a little luck---particularly if it is thought likely to have been an early Portuguese wreck. Although the Spanish Empire le moun- tains of paperwork in its wake, a catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and re in November 1755 virtually wiped Lisbon o the map and sent the Casa da India, the building that housed the vast majority of precious maps, charts, and shipping records, tumbling into the Tagus River. "That left a huge hole in our history," says Alexandre Monteiro, a maritime archaeologist and researcher who works with the Portuguese Ministry of Culture. "With no India archives le to peruse, one has to revert to other, more imaginative ways of nding information." In this instance, a vital clue came from the coins found in abundance on the wreck---par- ticularly those beautiful and rare portugueses of King João III. ese were minted for only a few years, from 1525 to 1538, a er which they were recalled, melted down, and never reissued. Finding so many sparkling new portugueses on the wreck is a strong indication that the ship sailed during this 13-year window in time.