Sunday July 1, 2012
Diver tells of sunken treasure in Malacca
By R.S.N. MURALI
MALACCA: An archaeologist diver claims to have discovered the remains of a sunken Dutch merchant vessel containing RM500mil worth of cultural relics, about three nautical miles off Pulau Besar here.
The Kuala Lumpur-based archaeologist, who wanted to be known only as David so he could remain anonymous, believes the vessel could have escaped the roving eyes of underwater relic hunters as it was buried by undersea sand.
The wooden galleon is said to have sunk with the loads of treasures about 400 years ago. It may have a number of well-preserved relics like ceramics, old coins, beads, glass and gold ingots.
David believes the find is the first intact wreck related to the Dutch occupation of Malacca.
He and his team found the near complete hull structure about 1m under the seabed, and 27m beneath the ocean's surface off the Straits of Malacca in May.
“The discovery is so monumental because much of the hull has remained intact and the vessel appears to be well preserved due to the sand,” he said.
David said there were also six other shipwrecks at the same site.
Malacca Museum Authority's general manager Datuk Khamis Abas said the wooden vessel had been detected during an underwater survey conducted by several maritime agencies a few years ago.
“Due to the strong undercurrent, the expedition team could only record the sighting without doing any research,” he said.
Khamis said the team had also alerted the Heritage Department on the finding of the Dutch vessel.
He advised the archaeologist's team to contact the Heritage Department to get permission to conduct more research.
The Star previously reported that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was aware of alleged theft of these submerged treasures.
He said irresponsible individuals had gone underwater to take away the national treasures that were worth billions.