Dozens of divers are plunging 300 years back in time in Mombasa's Old Town Harbour in Kenya and are surfacing with priceless treasures.
GV ZOOM IN TO Diving platform in Mombasa Harbour, Kenya (2 shots)
SV Old fort (2 shots)
GV Sailing craft in harbour
CU Diving equipment PULL BACK to diver receiving instructions from Robin Piercy, expedition leader
CU Divers preparing for dive and diver entering water (2 shots)
MCU Expedition supervisor Hamo Sasson examining find from wreck
MV Divers in water and passing finds up to deck (6 shots)
CU Vases and figure of saint being discussed by expedition team members (2 shots)
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Background: Dozens of divers are plunging 300 years back in time in Mombasa's Old Town Harbour in Kenya and are surfacing with priceless treasures.
SYNOPSIS: Members of a multi-national diving team have been searching a wreck tentatively identified as the 42-gun Portuguese frigate, Santo Antonio de Tanna, which sank in Mombasa in 1697 while attempting to relieve a besieged garrison. The wreck was located by Kenyan scuba divers 12 years ago in about 20 metres (66 feet) of water. In 1971, they raised a number of objects from the wreck. Some of these helped to confirm the Portuguese nationality of the vessel and one in particular, a bronze canon, bears the Portuguese coat of arms and the date 1678.
According to the divers, it is never possible to see the whole wreck are at once. Visibility is usually no more than three metres (10 feet) and on occasions it is impossible for the divers even to read their watches. But there are times when visibility is up to 12 metres (40 feet) and divers wait for these to carry out more intricate searches.
Items recovered so far include brass ornaments, lead shot, pewter bottle stoppers, ceramic bowls, earthenware jars, pulleys, nails and a hand pump.
An ink pot still full of black fluid was also found. While the items themselves provide a glimpse of Kenya's ancient history, only the most modern methods are being used to preserve them. All items found are carefully sent up to surface crews in plastic bags to be immediately doused in protective chemicals and labelled. They are then briefly examined before being forwarded to a special conservation laboratory set up at nearby Fort Jesus Museum.
Experts from Kenya, Britain, Portugal and the United States have described the work as extremely encouraging, although they believe that when the vessel sank much of the valuable contents from her upper parts were salvaged. They say parts of the frigate must have been above the surface at low tide during the early years after it sank.