Madrid: The discovery of objects during excavations at Palos de la Frontera in southwestern Spain has allowed scholars to determine the exact location from where Christopher Columbus' three ships set off in 1492.
The discovery is of international importance, as it sheds light on one of the most important chapters of history.
For years it had been suspected that the remains of the port's long-vanished infrastructure was located in the area known as "the trough", but until Monday, there was no evidence to confirm it, said Juan Manuel Campos, a professor who led the team that made the discovery.
Historical sources say the port comprised a shipyard, a fresh water fountain called La Fontanilla, a pottery works and a reef, Campos said.
Traces of the pottery and the reef were discovered in the most recent excavation, confirming Palos as Columbus' point of departure.
In 1992 researchers already deduced, through indirect data, that the port was located somewhere in the area known as the "vaguada", or trough.
But it hasn't been until now, 24 years later, that archeological excavations led by Campos, professor at the University of Huelva, confirmed the hunch.
The discovery of the pottery has been crucial, since seven ovens have been found that make it a unique example of this type of building in 15th-century Spain, in which ceramics, bricks, tiles, baked goods and lime were produced.
But the discovery of the reef is of even greater importance, allowing the experts to determine the exact location of the port.
Palos was an "international and prosperous" port from the second half of the 15th-century to the early 16th-century, as these findings attest.
"The reef was the port's customs area, and it was the place where Columbus negotiated and made the arrangements necessary for the success of his historic voyage," Campos said.