Found at the Bottom of the Baltic Sea

Thursday August 01, 2019 Written by Kate


Five hundred years ago, back when Christopher Columbus was ‘discovering’ new worlds and Leonardo Da Vinci was trying his darndest to finish the Mona Lisa, a merchant ship sank to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It lay there for centuries, undisturbed, until 2009, when it was found during a sonar survey by the Swedish Maritime Administration.

Earlier this year, researchers using underwater robotics were finally able to capture detailed, three-dimensional images of the vessel. They’ve dated it to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and described it as a significant archeological find for the study of early modern marine exploration. 

Dr Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Southampton, says the cold, salty waters of the Baltic kept the ship in near-perfect condition. 

“It’s almost like it sank yesterday – masts in place and hull intact,” he says. “Still on the main deck is an incredibly rare find – the tender boat, used to ferry crew to and from the ship, leaning against the main mast. It’s a truly astonishing sight.”

Researchers are still trying to figure out the ship’s true identity. Until then, they’re calling it Okänt Skepp, Swedish for “unknown ship”.