Pepper Wreck Astrolabes in Lisbon's Museu de Marinha



Since the fall of 2001 part of the most important artifacts recovered in the Pepper Wreck site have been included in the permanent exhibit of the excelent Portuguese Museu de Marinha. This representative sample of the artifacts found in the presumable Nossa Senhora dos Mártires shipwreck site include three astrolabes, several pots made in China, Japan, and Siam, pewter plates, porcelain, sounding leds, and nautical dividers, among other.

The three astrolabes from São Julião da Barra are now part of the Museu de Marinha collection, the largest in the world with nine maritime astrolabes:

Sacramento II


Atocha III

Atocha IV



All astrolabes have a name, either taken from the shipwreck or the place where they were found. There is a world inventory of shipwrecks at the English National Maritime Museum, unfortunately not entirely accessible to the public.


The three astrolabes from the Pepper Wreck site, known as São Julião da Barra I, São Julião da Barra II, and São Julião da Barra III, are now part of the collection of astrolabes of Lisbon's Museu de Marinha, the largest in the world.

São Julião da Barra I

Diameter: 167 mm;

Thickness: 16 mm (upper end), 18 mm (lower end);

Distance between pinnules: unknown;

Weight: 1,690 gr.

No scale

No marks

Found: 18 June 1996.

São Julião da Barra II

Diameter: 173/175 mm;

Thickness: 22 mm (upper end), 20 mm (lower end);

Distance between pinnules: unknown;

Weight: 1,769 gr.

Scale: 90-0-90

No marks

Found: 4 February 1997.

São Julião da Barra III

Diameter: 174 mm;

Thickness: 20.3 mm (upper end), 21.4 mm (lower end);

Distance between pinnules: 65 mm;

Weight: 2,843 gr.

Scale: 90-0-90

Marks: "1605," "G," and four "x."

Found: 16 June 1997.


Reis, António Estácio dos, Astrolábios Náuticos, Lisboa: Inapa, 2002.

Vale, Jose Picas do, "Nautical Astrolabes," in Afonso, Simonetta Luz, ed., Nossa Senhora dos Mártires, the Last Voyage, Lisbon: Verbo, 1998.