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The Pepper Wreck

Virtual Tour

Citation information: Filipe Castro, "The Cais do Sodré Ship",, last updated in February 2008.


5. Sterns (popas)



Evidence suggests that stern panels appeared around 1500, although one painting in the church of Zumaya, in the Basque Country, dated to c. 1475, shows two vessels with stern panels (Brad Lowen pers. comm.). Richard Barker (pers. comm.) reminds us that paintings were often restored and changed in the process of restoration.


Gudgeons found on the Molasses Reef shipwreck, probably Portuguese - probably dating to the very early 16th century, and perhaps even dating to the late 15th century, in the time of the earliest Portuguese voyages to the New World, such as the ones mentioned by Duarte Pacheco Pereira - show that had a stern panel.

It is by no means sure that Portuguese Indiamen had stern panels in the first half of the 16th century. Iconography shows these ships with both square sterns and round sterns with square tucks.

Only a few archaeological examples have survived, together with a drawing by João Baptista Lavanha, included in his treatise Livro primeiro de arquitectura naval, that dates to c. 1600:



Molasses Reef shipwreck

Turks and Caicos. Probably Portuguese.


Artifact assemblage - c. 1500.




 San Juan

Canada. Spanish.

Date: 1565 




West Turtle Shipwreck

Florida. Probably Spanish.

Date: ? 




Lavanha's drawing of a stern panel, c. 1600.







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Last Updated: 10/14/08