Shipwrecks Discovered Around Ilha
Arqueonautas Worldwide, a Portuguese Underwater Archaeology Company, has was signed a Concession Agreement in November 1999 for the area around the Ilha. Because of its important strategic location it is considered one of the most important areas for historical shipwrecks along the East African coast. So far over 14 historical shipwrecks have been confirmed by historical research. Survey operations were initiated in May 2000 and so far 14 major magnetic anomalities, which are most probably shipwreck debris fields, were located. First trial excavations will be realised early 2001.
Mozambique's Historical Importance
The first European to discover Ilha de Moçambique, was the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama on his 1498 voyage to India. It had, however, already been a strategic location for centuries before, for Persian and Arab sailors. Being a sheltered anchorage, Ilha de Moçambique provided a safe haven for both outward- and homeward bound European trading vessels. The Portuguese established a trade monopoly by continuing to create trading posts and settlements along the River Zambesi. Cargoes such as gold and ivory continued to be traded until the 19th century. The slave trade became a vital factor in Moçambique's economy even after being outlawed in the mid-18th century.
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