Season 1, Episode 7
Arthur C. Clarke’s Treasure Ship
Author, screenwriter, inventor. Arthur C. Clarke is renowned for his more than 70 books exploring the endless wonders of space and science fiction. Lesser known is his passion for undersea adventures. In fact, his love of scuba diving was one of the main reasons he moved from his native England in 1956 to settle in Sri Lanka for the rest of his life.
Clarke and his friends dived all around the island. But one site stands out. Ten miles off the southeast coast, a lighthouse warned passing ships of a treacherous 40 km coral reef below. The Great Basses reef was inaccessible for most of the year, but divers who ventured into its clear waters between the monsoons found a fairyland of caves, grottos, and colorful sea life. And as Clarke was to discover, the reef harbored something even more fantastic: a shipwreck with treasure.
As he writes in two books, Clarke and his friends explore and excavate the wreck, its artifacts and a hefty treasure of Mughal-era silver coins. They attempt to piece together the history of the ship and its precious cargo. “Underwater archaeology is like a detective story,” Clarke writes. We journey with him on this mystery and also ask, to whom does found treasure belong?
Time Markers (min:sec)
- 00:04 Please wear your headphones
- 00:15 Prologue
- 05:09 Chapter 1, Treasure Under the Sea
- 14:59 Chapter 2, Mysteries of the Ship
- 21:11 Chapter 3, More Silver to the U.S.
- 25:23 Chapter 4, Legacy of Great Basses
- 28:49 Chapter 5, Treasure or Booty?
- 35:26 Ending Credits
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Wijegunaratne, Admiral (Retd) Ravindra C. Protecting Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb’s Silver Coin Ship. The Island, Aug. 29, 2020.
Wilson, Mike, in cooperation with The Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board. Beneath the Seas of Ceylon. Documentary, 1958. 20 minutes. Written, produced and photographed by Mike Wilson.