Wreck of 400-year-old spice trade ship found off coast of Portugal in ‘discovery of a decade’

A 400-year-old merchant ship laden with bronze cannons and cowrie shells, which were used as currency in the African slave trade, has been discovered on the seabed off the coast of Portugal.

Archaeologists believe the ship was returning from India on the spice route when it was wrecked off the town of Cascais, west of the capital, Lisbon.

Divers found Chinese ceramics, cowrie shells, bronze cannons engraved with the Portuguese coat of arms and even the remains of spices such as pepper in and around the wreck.

Finding the ship, which is thought to have sunk between 1575 and 1625, is of great significance, said Jorge Freire, the scientific director of the archaeological project.

“From a heritage…