Researchers uncover intact Renaissance-era shipwreck

The Maritime Executive

An international team of scientists has discovered the remains of a pristine Renaissance-era shipwreck in the Baltic Sea. The researchers believe that it is an unusually important discovery, as it is quite rare to find wooden vessels of this age in an intact condition.

The shipwreck was first detected by the Swedish Maritime Administration in a side-scan sonar survey in 2009. Early this year, during survey work for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, its true value as an archaeological site was uncovered. The archaeological discovery mission was led by Dr Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, a maritime archaeologist with Swedish survey firm MMT, in collaboration with Deep Sea Productions, Södertörn University and the University of Southampton.

The vessel dates to the era of Christopher Columbus and Leonardo Da Vinci, and she has what the team describes as an “astonishing” level of preservation after five hundred years on the seafloor. Her hull structure is preserved from the keel to the top deck, along with most of her fittings – including all of her masts, much of her standing rigging, a wooden capstan, a bilge pump and even the ship's tender boat.

“This Unknown Ship (Okänt Skepp) is probably the best preserved Early Modern Period shipwreck ever to be discovered in recent times,” the team wrote.

The vessel is significant for her age: researchers believe that she predates many well-known finds from the period, like the English carrack Mary Rose and the Swedish warship Vasa. It is rare to find wrecks from before this era in good condition, and the site will give new insights into an important period in the modernization of Scandinavian nations.

MMT and the University of Southampton were also parters in one of the most significant finds of well-preserved wooden wrecks ever – the discovery of 65 impeccable vessels on the bottom of the Black Sea, some dating back to the Classical Greek period.


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