The ship had more than one level, as the illustration shows. The lowest one was carefully loaded with rocks and heavy cargo. This material, called ballast, helped keep the ship stable and upright. On El Nuevo Constante, the copper ingots provided some of the ballast. To supplement this cargo, the ship also carried ballast stones. These smooth, rounded river cobbles were on board just to stabilize the ship. After the wreck, the people recovering the cargo may not have been able to reach the lowest levels, so the things stored there were left on the ship. Much of the cargo, however, was lightweight, and it was stored in a higher level.
(Right) Cutaway view of ship showing where cargo and ballast were stored.
(Below) Piles of ballast stones recovered from the ship.
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