Vega, April 2004

Joel Neto

A Nau de Portugal (The Portuguese Nau)
By Filipe Vieira de Castro


The Portuguese Nau - The Ships of the Conquest of the Eastern Empire
(published by Prefacio, military history collection), essay by Filipe Vieira de Castro published in 2003, is mainly a manual to assist the general public in understanding what is know and what is not known about the Iberian ships of the discoveries.
Little is known. About ten known Portuguese naus lie on the sea bottom, but all were damaged by sport divers and treasure hunters.
As far as the caravels are concerned, not one positive identification has been made - apart from the possibility that the Ria de Aveiro A, discovered in 1992, could be one.
Ultimately no one knows exactly what a nau or caravel looked like - one can only extrapolate from sketches and available scattered records. This constrains the investigators. In contrast, the Dutch (XVII century), the Vikings (V-Xii centuries) and even the Romans (century II BC to II AC) are very weel known. As far as the Iberic XVI century is concerned, we are well informed about almost everything (books, music, rugs, landscapes, cups, plates, jewels), except about ships.
(Book review translated by Siaska Andre de la Porte V. Castro)