Eagle-eyed boy, 7, snags artefact
Find made by young ‘archinologist’ while swimming near Chefana River
After careful analysis by the East London Museum, an artefact found by Cole Hubbard, 7, near the Cefani River in Chintsa has, this week, been identified as a pottery sherd believed to be over 370 years old.
In archaeology, the term sherd or potsherd is used to describe a historic or prehistoric fragment of pottery.
The artefact was spotted under a rock near the river mouth in December, while Cole and his family were on holiday in the coastal village.
“I wanted to go swim in the waves and I was looking at the floor trying to find treasure. I saw something awkward sticking out by a rock and I first thought it was a shell. I ‘brang’ it to my dad and we took it to the museum,” said Cole excitedly.
According to museum scientist Kevin Cole, the glazed pottery sherd was part of a Martaban storage jar from a Portuguese trading ship, the Atalaia, that was wrecked close to the Cefani River in June 1647.
“The Atalaia was on a homeward bound voyage from Goa to Lisbon with a cargo of diamonds, Chinese porcelain, bronze cannons from the Bocarro Foundry in Mocoa, pepper and spices when she was wrecked 30km north of East London near the Cefani River Mouth,” the scientist said.
He said that Marataban jars were used by early sailors to carry water, wine oil and fruit and that they often had decorative features including dragons, waves, clouds or pearls.
“With a little imagination Cole’s find seems to depict a string of pearls on an amber brown glaze. It is one of the best and most beautiful pieces found to date,” he said.
The Hubbard family live in Johannesburg but visit Chintsa, where they have a holiday home, almost every summer.
“I’m a big fan of ancient stuff and we’ve always known about the ship, so we’re constantly watching out for interesting artefacts. My wife has found a piece of the china before,” said Cole’s dad, Terek Hubbard.
“I think maybe because I’m always talking about old school stuff, in Joburg Cole’s always looking at the floor, he’s always looking for something. He wants to do science, he’s little, he’s only seven, so he calls them ‘archinologists’. But he’s definitely captivated by the profession.”
Cole donated his find to the East London Museum, where it will be displayed with other pieces from the Atalaia wreckage...