QUIRKY WORLD ... Second of a kind coin found in shipwreck

OMAN: The 500-year-old wreckage of a Portuguese ship piloted by an uncle of explorer Vasco da Gama has been found off the coast of Oman, a discovery that included the recovery of an incredibly rare coin — of which only one other was thought to exist.

QUIRKY WORLD ... Second of a kind coin found in shipwreck

The Esmeralda sank during a violent storm near al-Hallaniyah Island in the Indian Ocean in May 1503, killing commander Vicente Sodre and all those aboard.

Beginning in 2013, a team from the British company Blue Water Recoveries and the Oman ministry of heritage and culture explored a site in the island’s Ghubbat ar Rahib Bay. They later determined the debris found there came from the long-missing ship, one of two lost in the storm from da Gama’s second voyage to India.

Among the stone shot, ceramics, a bell, and other debris, divers discovered a silver coin called an Indio, of which only one other is known to exist today, said David Mearns, of Blue Water Recoveries. The coins were forged in 1499 after da Gama’s first voyage to India, which helps date the wreckage, he said.

“That was an amazing discovery,” Mearns said. “It was like a thing you read about in a Hollywood story.”

The archaeologists announced their findings in an article published by The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Ayoub al-Busaidi, of the Oman ministry of heritage and culture, said this marked the first underwater excavation carried out by his country. He said it inspired officials to continue to explore the waters.

“Oman is now looking at outside archives to read about the relationships and trade between Oman and the outside” world, he said.

Balls drop

UAE:

The famous “golf balls” on Etisalat buildings are coming down.

The Emirati telecommunications company has taken down the spheres on the buildings at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The move comes after a major thunderstorm struck the United Arab Emirates, bringing strong winds and rainfall that caused flooding. The national emergency crisis and disaster management authority asked Etisalat to remove the sphere from its Abu Dhabi headquarters as it was “severely damaged by strong winds”, reported the state-run WAM news agency.

Ferrante furore

ITALY:

An Italian historian claims he has solved one of Italy’s biggest literary mysteries: The true identity of author Elena Ferrante.

Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels have won worldwide acclaim, despite the pseudonym. The final title, The Story Of The Lost Child, is a finalist for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. Italian writer and Dante expert Marco Santagata said that after a careful study of the texts he ascertained that Ferrante is Marcella Marmo, a Neapolitan professor who studied in Pisa.

Marmo denies it. “I thank all those who thought I was a happy bestseller writer, but as I tried to say in recent days, I am not Elena Ferrante,” she said.

Locked out to locked up

USA:

A Pennsylvania man who locked himself out of his house wound up in jail once emergency responders realised he had unpaid court fines.

Reports say 35-year-old Jeffrey Jones climbed onto the roof while trying to get into his house through a window, but had to call 911 when he got stuck. Altoona police said they discovered he was wanted by the Blair County sheriff’s office for failing to pay $750 (€675) in court costs and fines. As a result, Jones was taken to jail.

Dentist chair breaks free

ENGLAND:

A dentist chair used to fix inmates’ teeth is probably the most unusual item up for sale in a clearout of a former jail. The chair is from the healthcare wing of Northallerton Prison in North Yorkshire, which is due for demolition. The prison, parts of which date from the 18th century, was closed in 2013. The jail was bought for £1.4m (€1.8m) by Hambleton Council, which has put the chair on eBay with a £1,000 (€1,275) reserve.

Problem solved

ENGLAND:

A British mathematician has been awarded one of the discipline’s top prizes for solving a numerical problem that baffled experts for three centuries.

Andrew Wiles, 62, has been awarded the Abel Prize by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, which he published in 1994. Wiles, a professor at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, will pick up the award and a cheque for 6m Norwegian krone (€630,000) from crown prince Haakon of Norway in Oslo in May, for an achievement described as “an epochal moment for mathematics”.

Thief drops off baby

USA:

A thief stole a minivan left running in front of a shop with a four-month-old baby inside but dropped off the child in front of a house about 12km away.

The vehicle was stolen while the father was inside a shop in west Philadelphia, police said. The child was found about half an hour later after being left on the steps of the home. The thief apparently found a phone number inside the vehicle and sent a text telling the dad where to find the child.

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