The oldest known astrolabe was used on one of Vasco da Gama’s ships

MARINER’S FRIEND A metal disk found at a shipwreck site near Oman is the oldest known mariner’s astrolabe, a device for navigating at sea.

While searching for shipwreck remains near Oman in the Arabian Sea in 2014, divers discovered an unusual metal disk that has since proven to be the world’s oldest known mariner’s astrolabe, British researchers report.

The navigational device came from the wreckage of a ship in the Portuguese armada that had been part of explorer Vasco da Gama’s second voyage to India from 1502 to 1503. Historical decorations on the artifact led the researchers to suggest that the disk was used as early as 1496.

A bit wider than a dollar…

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