When I was on Ilha de Moçambique people on the streets kept tempting me with stuff they succeeded to pull out from the deep blue sea. It’s not legal (I think), but then how to explain why local shops have archeological artifacts for sale too? The reality overwhelms any law or good intention.
Some people own baskets with broken pieces of precious Ming porcelain usually washed ashore during storms or strong tides. What nature gives… In such a laissez faire scenario, it’s understandable that the only group legally exploiting the archaeological field is regarded by locals with distrust.
We ended up buying two coins and a bracelet. I was told the heavy grey metal ornament is made of pure silver. Over and over again. By anyone I cared to ask.
Back in Maputo, I tried to give my new (historical) bracelet the usual silvery shine. I was heading for disappointment. If it’s made of silver, it has to be of a different kind. Do you think I complained? Nope. This bracelet is so huge I had to have ten times bigger arms to wear it.
Understandably, I concluded: 1) Five hundred years ago silver wasn’t what it is nowadays or I went for a song. 2) I would die an old maiden, despised by any eligible navigator, because the beauty patterns of those times were clearly larger sizes friendly. Larger and stronger. You should feel how heavy it is!
So now I own a silver bracelet that doesn’t shine or fits. As I don’t intend to open a museum in a foreseen future, this lesson from the past says: don’t buy it.