Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

SNAPSHOT: This 500-year-old Artifact Rescued From a Portuguese Shipwreck is the Oldest of its Kind

Researchers think it's an astrolabe, a navigational instrument.

By Ernie MastroianniJune 6, 2019 7:00 PM
Astrolabe - David Mearns
(Credit: David Mearns)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In 1503, a storm sank the Portuguese ship Esmeralda off the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, taking the lives of the crew. In 2014, divers and archaeologists returned to the wreck to retrieve what remained. That included this metal disk, thought to be an astrolabe — an instrument that mariners used to navigate by measuring the height of celestial bodies above the horizon.

Two features of the Portuguese flag — the coat of arms and an armillary sphere, a pattern of rings meant to represent the heavens — affirmed its provenance. Likely constructed between 1496 and 1501, the astrolabe was certified this year as the oldest example known.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In