Friday, August 11, 2006

Maritime archaeologists‘ fascination with hardy cannons
THE indestructible nature of cannons that were made 500 years ago and which long outlived the ships they protected as they rounded the South African coastline in the 16th century, is being highlighted at a maritime archaeological conference in Mossel Bay this week.

Artillery historian Gerry de Vries gave a presentation on 12 antique cannons recovered from the Portuguese ships Sao Bento and Santiago.

These vessels, which were lost en route to India and China in the 16th century, foundered off what are now Port St Johns and Port Edward on the Transkei and KwaZulu Natal coastline.

Interesting bit:

Marine archaeologists are in discussions with government on the new firearms legislation as, apparently, no provision has been made for the retention of harmless but historic weapons like these in working order.

Firearms historians like De Vries are concerned that, if blanket legislation remains in place, then unique and irreplaceable objects like the Portuguese cannons will be lost forever as living artifacts.

So apparently there is some question as to whether stricter gun laws(?) will allow the ownership of old, working cannon.