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Mystery shipwreck found in central Stockholm

TT/AFP/The Local · 25 Nov 2010, 18:46

Published: 25 Nov 2010 16:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Nov 2010 18:46 GMT+01:00

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The vessel was built with an almost completely unknown technology, delighting archaeologists. The planks of the ship are not nailed down, but sewn together with rope.

The discovery was made by labourers close to the royal palace and in front of Stockholm's Grand Hotel during renovation works to a quay.

"The discovery of the wreck is extremely interesting given the place where it was made. There was a naval shipyard on this spot until the start of the 17th century," Maritime Museum director Hans-Lennarth Ohlsson said in a statement.

A couple of weeks ago, an excavator found something unusual in his bucket. Marine archaeologist Jim Hansson at the Maritime Museum was called to Strömkajen below the Grand Hotel, where he quickly realised the value of the sensational find.

"We were super-excited. It may sound a little strange when one finds little excavated pieces of parts of a ship, but I have never seen anything like it," he said.

With the exception of another ship found in 1896, all other shipwrecks uncovered in and around the Stockholm harbour have featured planks that were nailed together.

"We really know nothing about this technique other than that it was used in the east," added Hansson.

Hansson guesses that the ship is from east of the Baltics, possibly from Russia. The ship's position, well into the quay, reveals that it is from the 1600s or earlier. The wreck was not necessarily linked to the yard, however, and archaeologists have been unable to say how long before 1700 it might have sunk.

Story continues below…

Marine archaeologists will send samples to Denmark's Copenhagen National Museum for analysis to be dated as precisely as possible, with results expected by January 2011. In addition, they will monitor the rest of the excavation.

"It is pretty damn nervewracking. It is rare that an archaeologist gets to take a part in something like this. One gets to leave the kids at home and stand in a pit of mud at Christmas," Hansson joked.

In 1961, the Vasa, a Swedish warship, was salvaged from just outside Stockholm harbour. The ship, which foundered on her maiden voyage in 1628, was largely intact and has since become one of Sweden's most popular tourist attractions.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:02 November 25, 2010 by Traveling2010
That is totally awesome.
17:13 November 25, 2010 by Åskar
I wouldn't say it was an "almost completely unknown technology", only that it is unknown in Sweden.
17:21 November 25, 2010 by Nemesis
This is interesting.

That is a very old technique for boat building that is well out of place in the 1600's. Should be interesting to read the publications on this when they come out in a few years.
20:23 November 25, 2010 by jack sprat
Obviously the remnants of a cheap Ruskie package holiday from 400 years ago.

They likely forgot to mention in the brochure that it was just a one way trip, the hotel photo was only an artist's impression and the boat was held together with rope. lol.
05:11 November 26, 2010 by fucharley
Th Polynesians tied their planks together using a thread technique.
14:08 November 26, 2010 by ehwhat?
Åskar is absolutely right. The technology is very well known from several other sites and has antecedents going all the way back to the Neolithic. It isn't well known or documented for the area where it was found. The continuation of techniques in vernacular ship building is very interesting and gives insight to the groups that produced them. If they decide to go this route, preservation of the wood should be fairly straightforward depending on the results of the conservation report and considerably less expensive than the Vasa. Well done the workmen who stopped rather than destroy the ship.
14:32 November 26, 2010 by jbkulp
And this is the most exciting thing that ever happens in Sweden
02:11 November 27, 2010 by facetedjewel
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