Translated by Joseph Abdo

Translated by Joseph Abdo

The Nossa Senhora dos Mártires is the name of a cargo ship wrecked in 1606 at the mouth of the River Tagus, near Lisbon, and subsequently excavated between 1996 and 2001. The ship had been seeking safer anchorage in the Tagus during strong winds, but she struck a submerged rock and went down close to shore with no loss of life. The wreck is so called because its major cargo at the time was peppercorns of black pepper, which carpeted the river.  The ship was a type called the nau, a cargo vessel.  Constructed in 1605 in the Ribeira das Naus, the royal shipyard in Lisbon, it set sail under captain Manuel Barreto in that year as part of a convoy consisting of ten ships to Goa. After loading a cargo of pepper, it completed the return voyage and anchored off the mouth of the Tagus. A strong wind caused some other ships to pull anchor, inspiring their captains to move further into the river. Seeking to follow their example, the Nossa Senhora dos Mártires struck a rock and went down suddenly on September 14, 1606. Part of the hull remains have preserved carpenters marks that allowed a tentative reconstruction of the ship’s hull.