Archaeology breakthrough: Shipwrecks of ‘skeleton coast’ found in ‘gates of hell’
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The fascinating region within the southern African country is littered with archaeological wonders, including a number of shipwrecks and carcasses of long-dead animals. Many wrecks languishing on the coast have been destroyed, but some are still visible. One vessel left on the beaches of Namibia is The Suiderkus, which has mostly disintegrated. However, a large portion of the hull remains, and has become a popular sight for photographers. It’s one of the most visible and relatively accessible wrecks along the coast.
Another vessel left in the same region is the Dunedin Star – which left Liverpool during World War 2 to supply Britain and its allies with ammunition and other supplies.
The ship carried 21 passengers as they tried to evade London during the conflict.
But when the vessel reached the Skeleton Coast, it hit an underwater obstacle and was left grounded 500 metres from shore.
The rescue efforts also led to disaster, as a plane sent to offer supplies crashed into the sea and a tugboat failed to reach survivors.
Both vehicles can be seen on the coast today.
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The Edouard Bohlen is the best known wreck left on Skeleton Coast, grounded in the middle of the desert 500 metres from the coast.
It was a German cargo ship which was travelling to Cape Town in 1907.
Years later, the coastline changed and the desert began to encroach on the ocean. Once stranded at sea, the wreck slowly began what appeared to be a trek inland.
The Skeleton Coast is located on the other part of the Atlantic coast, south of neighbouring Angola.
The Bushmen of Namibia have called the region “The Land God Made in Anger”, while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as “The Gates of Hell”.
One wreck left on the coast remains unidentified.
After almost two years, international archaeologists and conservators successfully salvaged the wreck believed to be of a 16th century Portuguese ship that lay undisturbed for 500 years near Oranjemund.
The sunken ship’s rich treasure included a total of 2,266 gold and silver coins that were found underneath its planks.
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They largely consisted of Portuguese and Spanish gold coins, and are presently in safe custody at the Bank of Namibia.
The shipwreck was discovered by a Namdeb worker, Kapaandu Shatika on April, 1, 2008.
Namibia has been the setting of numerous finds, including a vessel named Bom Jesus, which set sail from Lisbon in 1533 and disappeared with its entire crew on board near the diamond mining town of Oranjemund.
The vessel was discovered in the pit of a drained lagoon, and in 2016 the gold was found six days into an excavation among bones and navigational tools.
The coast where the ship was found has the nickname Sperrgebiet — meaning “forbidden zone” in German.
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