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Trove of shipwrecks found in Baltic Sea

AFP/The Local · 9 Mar 2010, 07:49

Published: 09 Mar 2010 07:49 GMT+01:00

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The underwater treasure trove of nautical antiquities was discovered during a probe of the sea bed to prepare for the installation of a large gas pipeline.

"We have managed to identify 12 shipwrecks, and nine of them are considered to be fairly old," Peter Norman, a senior advisor with the heritage board, told AFP.

"We think many of the ships are from the 17th and 18th centuries and we think some could even be from the Middle Ages," he said, stressing that "this discovery offers enormous culture-historical value."

The shipwrecks were discovered during a probe by the Russian-led Nord Stream consortium of the sea bed route its planned gas pipeline from Russia to the European Union will take through the Baltic.

"They used sonar equipment first and discovered some unevenness along the sea bottom ... so they filmed some of the uneven areas, and we could see the wrecks," Norman explained.

The discovery was made outside Sweden's territorial waters, but within its economic zone, he said.

None of the wrecks were in the actual path the Nord Stream pipeline is set to take, but they were in its so-called anchor corridor, meaning they are in the area where ships laying the pipeline might anchor, Norman said.

"That's one of the reasons this probe was done: to avoid damaging wrecks on the sea bed," he said, adding that the Swedish National Heritage Board had received assurances from Nord Stream that "the positioning of the wrecks will be taken into account when they lay the pipeline".

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Due to its low temperatures and oxygen levels, the Baltic Sea is known as an ideal environment for conserving shipwrecks, which can remain virtually unblemished for hundreds and even thousands of year.

According to Norman, some 3,000 shipwrecks have been discovered and mapped in the Baltic, but experts believe more than 100,000 whole and partial wrecks litter the sea bottom.

"What makes this discovery so unique is that these wrecks have their hulls fully intact," Norman said, adding however that there were no plans to raise the wrecks, which lie at a depth of more than 100 metres.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:09 March 9, 2010 by Nemesis
This is brilliant news.

There is a shortage of finds that are medieval and viking.

Hopefully more vendel style (eastern Sverige) artifacts will be found so as to compare with Sutton Hoo.

Hopefully some of these books will fill some gaps in the history and school books.
10:55 March 9, 2010 by J.Darling
Can't wait to learn more, I love the idea of sunken treasure...very exciting!
23:44 March 9, 2010 by wxman
Sunken ships are always an interesting view into our past! the fact that they have been protected by the little sea creatures that swim the other seas is terrific, in that they are well preserved. Excellent historical time capsules from which we can learn of our past. Cool.
00:14 March 10, 2010 by Greg in Canada
I've dived on numerous Great Lake wrecks but these wrecks at 100 metres depth will be well protected from recreational divers looking for souvineers to take home. At that depth you're into mixed gas tehnical diving not to mention the cold water and poor visibility of the Baltic.
03:37 March 10, 2010 by danielatrujillo
amazing! i just want to know more!
09:57 March 10, 2010 by J Jack
sutton who?
03:40 March 13, 2010 by MarkinBoston
Greg in Canada

It's not the rec divers that are the problem - it's the professional treasure salvage guys. They can take the toilets out of the Titanic.
21:35 March 13, 2010 by Greg in Canada

That's true. The pros want to make money selling what ever historical artifacts they can bring up.

In the Great Lakes its only been fairly recently that the historical wrecks are protected. A lot of the shallow wrecks have already been picked over by rec divers.
20:41 February 8, 2011 by Snoopy!
mmmmmmmm beerrrrr Shipwrecks oldest beer
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