India Route Shipwrecks Project

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The objective of this project is the study of the Portuguese Indiamen that sailed annually from Lisbon to India, from 1498 to the 17th century, engaged in the commerce of pepper, spices, cotton, and many other goods.
 
The objective of this project is the study of the Portuguese Indiamen that sailed annually from Lisbon to India, from 1498 to the 17th century, engaged in the commerce of pepper, spices, cotton, and many other goods.
 +
 +
Built with varying resources - timber scarcity seems to have been the only constant thing in the life of the India Route - over a period of one and a half centuries, India naus were never described in detail, rarely painted or drawn by skilled artists, and disappeared from the history of technology almost without a trace during the mid-17th century.
 +
 +
Since most of these ships have been found and looted by sports divers and treasure hunting companies, it is imperative to inventory all ships found, and gather as much information as possible about them.
 +
 +
It is also paramount to reach out to the community of looters and treasure hunters in order to explain what is not known and try to establish working relations.
 +
 +
Although it is not possible to work together - for lack of a common objective - it is possible to establish relations between archaeologists and those that destroy these hull remains in search of artifacts with market value.
 +
 +
Portuguese Indiamen are so rare, so badly known to us, and so important for the history of European shipbuilding, that any reliable piece of information will great help our quest to understand them.
  
 
== Introduction ==
 
== Introduction ==

Latest revision as of 15:15, 9 December 2010


The objective of this project is the study of the Portuguese Indiamen that sailed annually from Lisbon to India, from 1498 to the 17th century, engaged in the commerce of pepper, spices, cotton, and many other goods.

Built with varying resources - timber scarcity seems to have been the only constant thing in the life of the India Route - over a period of one and a half centuries, India naus were never described in detail, rarely painted or drawn by skilled artists, and disappeared from the history of technology almost without a trace during the mid-17th century.

Since most of these ships have been found and looted by sports divers and treasure hunting companies, it is imperative to inventory all ships found, and gather as much information as possible about them.

It is also paramount to reach out to the community of looters and treasure hunters in order to explain what is not known and try to establish working relations.

Although it is not possible to work together - for lack of a common objective - it is possible to establish relations between archaeologists and those that destroy these hull remains in search of artifacts with market value.

Portuguese Indiamen are so rare, so badly known to us, and so important for the history of European shipbuilding, that any reliable piece of information will great help our quest to understand them.

Contents

Introduction

(View of Lisbon with ships from Genealogia do Infante D. Fernando, 1530-34, London, British Library.)

With his successful trip to India, around the Cape of Good Hope, Vasco da Gama opened a maritime route to the Asian markets of spices and exotic goods. The Portuguese crown sought to keep this commerce under state control, and sent a fleet to India almost every year, for over a century.

These voyages are reasonably well documented, as well as their routes, their ports of call, the names of the ship's captains, the Asian governors, and the notable soldiers.

The India Route

We know a good deal about the economics of this trade, its impact in 16th-Century Europe, the business networks that were generated and developed in various countries, and the role of the Church in the European expansion to East.

At present we don't know much about the principal vehicle of this expansion: the Portuguese Indiaman. In fact, it is amazing how little is known about the Portuguese naus that plowed the maritime route to India from 1498 to about 1650.

A handful of interesting texts and treatises, a small number of representations in charts, drawings, and paintings, and around twenty shipwrecks are all the clues we have to interpret, in the attempt to understand and reconstruct these ships.We know almost nothing about the standard Portuguese Indiaman, its routes, evolution, and performance at sea.

We know very little about the way in which these vessels were conceived and built, and there are enormous gaps in our knowledge about their size, shape, construction details, structural strength, design of upper work, or even basic rigging solutions.

View of Lisbon with ships from the so-called Livro de Horas de D. Manuel, 1517-c.26, MNAA, Lisbon.

From an estimated total of around 220 shipwrecks, only a few Portuguese naus have been found in the 20th century, and almost all were looted by curious divers or destroyed by treasure hunters.

Very few have been excavated or even surveyed by archaeologists, and the rare scholarly publications that resulted from the archaeological recording of these shipwrecks have become precious, considering the scarcity of information available.

This page is intended as a contribution to this understanding, and a guide through the bibliography and other information available pertaining to the Portuguese naus da Índia.

The main objective of this project is to gather, organize, and make easily accessible all available information on Portuguese Indiamen.

Shipwrecks

Portuguese Indiamen Shipwrecks

People of the Portuguese Overseas Expansion

Who was who in the Portuguese Overseas Expansion

Life Aboard

Recruitment

Military Aspects

Rise and Fall of the Carreira da Índia

Rise and Fall of the Carreira da Índia

Portuguese Shipwreck Accounts and Documents

Cover of the 18th-Century edition of História Trágico-Marítima.

Shipwreck accounts have fascinated people probably ever since their were shipwrecks. In Portugal a number of accounts of voyages and shipwrecks of Indiamen from the Carreira da India have been edited since at least the 1550s, and survive to these days. This form of literary fiction is imensely important for nautical archaeologists for a number of obvious reasons that stretch from the mere references to life aboard to the complex problems of identification of a particular shipwreck. Some of these accounts are widely known and have been translated into several languages. The best known have been bundled into a collection by Bernardo Gomes de Brito in 1735-36, under the title História Trágico-Marítima. Several other accounts of shipwrecks have been published, as well other documents pertaining to India Route shipwrecks, or other shipwrecks from the 16th and early 17th century period.

  • S. Pedro

Anonymous, in: Passos, Carlos de, "Navegação Portuguesa" in Revista Biblos, 1916.

  • S. Sebastião and Sto. António or Conceição, 1527

Anonymous, in: Passos, Carlos de, "Navegação Portuguesa" in Revista Biblos, 1916.

  • S. João, 1552

Anonymous in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • S. Bento, 1554

Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • N. S. Conceição, 1555

Manuel Rangel, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • Águia and Garça, 1559

Padre Manuel Barradas, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • S. Paulo, 1560

Henrique Dias, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

Frazao de Vasconcellos, in Boletim Geral das Colonias (1947?) and in a separate (author's) publication in Lisbon, 1948, has published "Naufragio da nau S. Paulo em um ilheu proximo da Samatra no ano de 1651. narracao inedita escrita em Goa em 1562 pelo Padre Manuel Alvares, S.J."

  • Nau of Albuquerque Coelho, 1565

António de Castro, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • S. Luis, 1582

Anonymous, in: Passos, Carlos de, "Navegação Portuguesa" in Revista Biblos, 1916.

  • Santiago, 1585

Manuel Godinho Cardoso, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • S. Thome, 1589

Diogo do Couto, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • Sto. Alberto, 1593

João Baptista Lavanha, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • Madre de Deus, 1595

Anonymous, in: Passos, Carlos de, "Navegação Portuguesa" in Revista Biblos, 1916.

  • S. Francisco, 1596

Padre Gaspar Afonso, in: Brito, Bernardo Gomes de, História Trágico-Marítima, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América, Colecção Livros de Bolso nº. 275 e 278.

  • N. S. Mártires, 1606

D. João Soares de Alarcão (1580-1618). This manuscript is mentioned by Diogo Barbosa Machado in his Bibliotheca Lusitana (18th-Century) but it is not referred in Innocêncio Francisco da Silva's Diccionário Bibliographico Portuguez (19th-Century). It may be lost.

Pepper Wreck

  • Madre de Deus, 1610

Vasconcelos, Frazao de, "Accao heroica de Andre Pessoa capitao da nau Madre de Deus em Nagasaqui no ano de 1610" in Anais da Academia Portuguesa de Historia (1944) 8: 301-325.

Boxer, Charles Ralph, "Relacao da perda da nau Madre de Deus no porto de Nagasaki em Janeiro de 1610" in Boletim da Agencia Geral das Colonias (1927) 1: 3-14.

  • N. S. Conceição, 1621

João Carvalho Mascarenhas, in Sérgio, António, Naufrágios e Combates no Mar, Textos Seleccionados, Anotados, Comentados e Acompanhados de um Estudo por António Sérgio, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Edições Livros Horizonte, 1959.

  • S. João Baptista, 1622

Frei Nuno da Conceição (1625), in Sérgio, António, Naufrágios e Combates no Mar, Textos Seleccionados, Anotados, Comentados e Acompanhados de um Estudo por António Sérgio, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Edições Livros Horizonte, 1959.

  • S. José, Sta. Theresa, and S. Carlos, 1622

Anonymous, in Passos, Carlos de, "Navegação Portuguesa" in Revista Biblos, 1916.

  • N. S. do Bom Despacho, 1630 (arrived safely)

Frei Nuno da Conceição(c.1631), in Sérgio, António, Naufrágios e Combates no Mar, Textos Seleccionados, Anotados, Comentados e Acompanhados de um Estudo por António Sérgio, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Edições Livros Horizonte, 1959.

  • N. S. Belém, 1635

Joseph de Cabreira, in Sérgio, António, Naufrágios e Combates no Mar, Textos Seleccionados, Anotados, Comentados e Acompanhados de um Estudo por António Sérgio, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Edições Livros Horizonte, 1959.

  • N. S. da Atalaia and Santissimo Sacramento, 1647

Bento Teixeira Feio, in Sérgio, António, Naufrágios e Combates no Mar, Textos Seleccionados, Anotados, Comentados e Acompanhados de um Estudo por António Sérgio, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Edições Livros Horizonte, 1959.

  • S. Lourenço, 1649

Padre António Francisco Cordeiro (1651), in Sérgio, António, Naufrágios e Combates no Mar, Textos Seleccionados, Anotados, Comentados e Acompanhados de um Estudo por António Sérgio, 2 Vols., Lisboa: Edições Livros Horizonte, 1959.

  • São Pantaleão, 1651

A perda do galeão São Pantaleão (text by Paulo Monteiro)

Naufrágio do São Pantaleão (II) (Docs. transcribed by Paulo Monteiro

Naufrágio do São Pantaleão (III) (Docs. transcribed by Paulo Monteiro)

  • N. S. de Candelaria, 1693

Francisco Correia, in Ferreira, Joao Palma, Naufrágios viagens, fantasias & batalhas, Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, 1980.

Bibliography and Resources

Portuguese India Route Shipwrecks

References

1. Guinote, P., Frutuoso, E., and Lopes, A., Naufragios e Outras Perdas da Carreira da India, Lisboa: Ed. Grupo de Trabalho do Ministerio da Educacao para as Comemoracoes dos Descobrimentos, 1998.

2. Filipe Castro, 2002, India Route Project: Introduction, World Wide Web, URL, http://nautarch.tamu.edu/shiplab/, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University.

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