Intact Renaissance Shipwreck in the Baltic


    An international team of scientists have conducted a maritime archaeological survey using state-of-the-art underwater robotics of an Early Modern Period (Late 15th Century-Early 16th Century) shipwreck in the Baltic. The archaeological survey was led by Dr Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, MMT’s maritime archaeologist and deep sea archaeological expert in collaboration with Deep Sea Productions, the Maritime Archaeology Research Institute of Södertörn University (MARIS) and the Centre for Maritime Archaeology (CMA) University of Southampton, where he is a Visiting Fellow in Maritime Archaeology. The shipwreck was first detected by the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) as a side-scan sonar target in 2009, but it was early this year and as part of the Nord Stream 2 survey work carried out by MMT that the shipwreck was identified as to have great archaeological and historical significance, as it would be contemporary of the times of Christopher Columbus and Leonardo Da Vinci and most importantly the level of preservation it possesses after five hundred years. During 2016 and 2017 MMT has been involved in the discovery and archaeological survey of more than 65 perfectly preserved shipwrecks in the Black Sea, some dating back to Ottoman, Byzantine Roman and Greek periods and to depths of more than 2,000m, a testament of the collaboration between industry and academic research. As part of the commitment between the project members to such collaboration, the archaeological survey welcomed students of Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton as well as students developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for subsea robotics from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH) to join the cruise and receive training in deep sea archaeology. It is believed that that the shipwreck could date between the Late 15th Century and the Early 16th Century. Placing this shipwreck to be earlier than the Warship Mars which sunk after an explosion in the First Battle of Öland in 1564 and Henry the VIII’s Mary Rose (1510-1545 AD) and The Swedish Warship Vasa (1628 AD). This is a very important discovery as it potentially predates the larger and more powerful ships involved later in the Northern Seven Year’s Wars (1563-1570). A battle fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and a coalition of Norway, Denmark and Poland between 1563 and 1570, the Baltic being the main maritime battleground. A period of great importance which defined the path of modernisation of these Scandinavian nations. Opposite to the scattered remains of the Warship Mars, which exploded in battle, this new shipwreck lays practically intact in the bottom of the Baltic’s seabed. Her hull structure is preserved from the keel to the top deck with all of her masts and some elements of the standing rigging still in place, including the bowsprit (Figure 4) and decorated transom stern (Figure 5) as well as the wooden capstan in place. Still on the main deck there lies the ship’s tender boat used to ferry crew to and from the ship. She was also carrying swivel guns on the main deck and some of them are still in the gun ports. Although smaller size than the Warship Mars this wreck can be described as very similar to the remains of the The Gribshunden wreck also found in Sweden, but dating to the late 14th Century early 15th Century and which remains are very scant. This Unknown Ship (Okänt Skepp) is probably the best preserved Early Modern Period shipwreck ever to be discovered in recent times.