Divers excavate the wreck site of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama's ship Esmeralda, which sank in a storm in May 1503 off the coast of Al Hallaniyah island in Oman, in this undated photo made available by Blue Water Recoveries on Mar. 15, 2016.
Blue Water Recoveries/AP
March 18, 2016 3:04 PM EDT

Marine archaeologists say they’ve found the earliest ship from Europe’s Age of Discovery ever uncovered — the wreck of a vessel from Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s brutal second armada to India in 1502.

Experts called it a find of major importance that could change how historians view trade and warfare during a critical period in the development of Western civilization.

The ship is believed to be the Esmeralda, which sank in a storm off the Omani island of Al Hallaniyah in May 1503, researchers said in a paper published in this week’s edition of the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (PDF). By…

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