375-Year-Old Shipwreck Found in German River

375-Year-Old Shipwreck Found in German River

Sat, 30/07/2022 - 14:02

While conducting a routine measurement in the Trave river in Northern Germany, the local waterways authority discovered a nearly 400-year-old ship from the Hanseatic period with 150 barrels on board - a unique find in the western Baltic region.

Wreck of Hanseatic kogge in Trave river
Dives showed that the wreck is at serious risk of erosion and exposed parts were infested with shipworm

The shipwreck, which has been found to be about 375 years old, was found nearly 36 feet beneath the surface of the Trave River - a river in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, which flows into the Baltic Sea at Travemünde. The ship was found during routine measurements of the river by the local waterway and shipping authority which detected an anomaly at the river bottom using a multibeam echosounder.

What is left of the ship are wooden beams and large parts of the cargo. The archaeologists calculated that the ship was 20 to 25 metres long.

A team of researchers spent eight months studying the wreck, determining that 150 barrels of cargo went down with the Hanseatic ship. The ship’s cargo was quicklime, which was a sought-after building material at that time.

According to initial findings, the ship must have been on its way from Scandinavia to Lübeck but never made it. Apparently, the ship ran aground on one of the river’s bends, and the damage from the event sank the vessel.

Shipworm alert

The wreck, which is now partially exposed, is found to be at serious risk of erosion and divers have noted how the exposed parts were infested with shipworm. Therefore, if no protective measures are taken, the wreck would be destroyed within a few years and this evidence of the extensive maritime trade of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck would be lost forever.

Hanseatic kogge
A graphic of the ship’s probable construction and the layout of the wreck.  Graphic: Dr. Fritz Jürgens, Kiel University


Kiel University

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