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They find an almost 400 year old ship that capsized in a river in Germany

According to the initial findings, the ship must have been on its way from Scandinavia to Lübeck to transport quicklime, which was a construction material coveted at the time for making mortar.

A team of researchers from German universities and institutions studied the remains of a shipwreck found by local port authorities and determined that 150 barrels of quicklime went down with the vessel. The remains were found nearly 11 meters deep in the Trave River in northern Germany. The dating of the ship’s planks revealed that the ship must have been built in the mid-seventeenth century, said Tuesday in a statement by Dr. Fritz Jürgens, team leader and researcher at the Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archeology at the University of Kiel.

In 2020, during routine measurements of the river with sonar, workers from the local navigation and waterway authority detected an anomaly at the bottom of the waterway. The divers then investigated the site in 2021 in order to rule out any risk to navigation and reported the wreck to the higher authority for the protection of historic monuments of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck.

Jürgens’ team was then commissioned to examine the wreck. The scientific diving center of the University of Kiel, and experts from the Hanseatic city of Lübeck, and the University of Göttingen, also dived in the 13 dives carried out during the eight months that the study lasted.

The ship that capsized was a medium cargo ship between 20 and 25 meters long. Erosion and extreme woodworm infestation may explain why all that remains of the German freighter are some dilapidated wooden beams and its cargo of lime. The ship corresponds to the type of ship that promoted trade in the Baltic Sea in the Hanseatic period. “You always expect a find like this, and suddenly you have one right in front of your eyes “, Jürgens said in the statement.

Analyses suggest that the ship ran aground in one of the bends in the river and, due to the damage sustained, sank at the point where it was found. According to initial findings, the ship must have been en route from Scandinavia to Lübeck carrying quicklime, which was a coveted building material at the time for making mortar.

The team archaeological site is working with the city of Lübeck and other institutions to protect the shipwreck. Among the group’s considerations is salvaging the wreck in the water and then preserving it. This type of archaeological find often requires extreme care for its conservation due to its extreme fragility.

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