German Rivers 5 Letters

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Divers made 13 dives on the sunken ship, totaling 464 minutes, to make a first report on the 400-year-old wreck. (Image credit: research diver Christian Howe)

German Rivers 5 Letters

German Rivers 5 Letters

Maritime archaeologists in northern Germany have discovered the wreck of a 400-year-old cargo ship that “sunk almost to its feet”, escaped decay from shipworms and still has the barrels of lime it carried for the construction industry stone centuries ago.

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The ship, a rare find, is from the Hanseatic period, when a group of northern European trading guilds dominated the Baltic and North Seas between the 13th and 17th centuries, Live Science previously reported. Wood rots quickly underwater in this region, and few wrecks of this era have ever been found. But maritime archaeologists believe the wreck survived beneath the waves because it was quickly engulfed and protected by a layer of fine mud carried there by the Trave River, which leads to the city of Lübeck about 5 miles (8 kilometers) inland.

The remains of the ship were first found in 2020 during a routine sonar survey by the Trave waterway authorities. The ship lies in a depth of about 36 feet (11 meters) in the predominantly saltwater outer portion of the river between Lübeck and the port of Travemünde at its mouth in the Baltic Sea.

The wrecked ship was between 20 and 25m long and could have been a galliot, a single-masted cargo ship common in the Hanseatic period, Fritz Jürgens, the project’s lead maritime archaeologist and assistant professor of protohistory. , medieval and post-medieval archeology at Kiel University in Germany, told Live Science. At the time, the cities and guilds of northern Germany and other parts of Europe formed a successful bloc – the Hansa – that dominated trade throughout the Baltic and North Seas.

, a type of saltwater clam called a “worm” that quickly eats submerged wood, Jürgens said. The bivalve rapidly destroys wooden wrecks in the western Baltic region, but does not live in the colder waters of the eastern Baltic; as a result, centuries-old wooden wrecks like the one in Trave are almost never found in the West, he said.

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Maritime archaeologists believe the ship’s wooden hull and cargo barrels were protected by a layer of mud from the River Trave against a destructive worm infestation. (Image credit: research diver Christian Howe)

About 150 wooden barrels found almost intact on or near the wreck indicate that the ship was carrying a cargo of quicklime when it sank in the late 17th century. Quicklime is obtained by burning limestone and is a crucial ingredient in the mortar used in stone.

“The source for this would have been Scandinavia – in the middle of Sweden or northern Denmark,” Jürgens said. “We know that this cargo was coming from there, most likely to Lübeck, because northern Germany does not have large sources of limestone.”

German Rivers 5 Letters

Historical research may have dated the shipwreck to December 1680. A letter from that date in the Lübeck historical archives shows that the voight, or bailiff, of Travemünde asked an unknown recipient to recover the cargo of a galleon that had run aground in the river . This fits with what is known about the Trave wreck, Jürgens said, including the results of a dating technique called dendrochronology, which revealed that the tree-ring patterns visible in the timbers were from trees felled in the 1650s.

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It is possible that the ship turned back before entering Lübeck, when it ran aground on a shoal in the river – a shallow area that still exists today and threatens ships unaware of it. Seventeenth-century laborers may have recovered some of the ships’ cargo, making the ship afloat; but the ship soon sank due to leaks caused when it hit the shoal, he said.

The sunken wreck and its cargo have now been photographed in situ by Christian Howe, a scientific diver based in Kiel, and the entire ship is expected to be raised from the riverbed in the next few years so that it does not move again and to be present. a danger to modern transport in the region, Jürgens said.

The ship may be a galliot, a single-masted cargo ship that was common in the Baltic Sea at the time it sank, around the second half of the 17th century. (Image credit: Dr. Fritz Jürgens, University of Kiel)

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Lübeck was famous for shipbuilding during the Hanseatic period, so it is possible that the ship was built there. But such vessels were common throughout the region at the time the ship sank in Trave, so it may have been built elsewhere in Europe, said Manfred Schneider, head of Lübeck’s archeology department and leader of the salvage project. ships.

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The wreck is remarkable for its remarkable state of preservation, not only because of its lack of infestation with worms and other marine organisms, but also because of its heavy cargo.

“There are approximately 70 barrels still in their original location on the ship and another 80 barrels in the immediate vicinity,” Schneider told Live Science in an email. “So the ship sank almost to its feet and did not capsize.” He added that archaeologists may discover other archaeological finds in the sediment filling the ship’s interior.

Lifting the ship from the riverbed will give archaeologists a chance to fully investigate its hull and construction and may identify its origin. “The salvage will also likely uncover previously unknown parts of the wreck that are still hidden in the sediment,” Schneider said, such as the ship’s crew quarters in the stern that may still hold everyday items from the 17th century- lea.

German Rivers 5 Letters

Although Lübeck was a center for Baltic trade during the Hanseatic period, very few authentic maritime objects from that period have survived, Schneider said, so the discovery of almost an entire ship from this era is remarkable. “We have something like a time capsule that conveys everything that was on board at that time,” he said. “Shoots into focus the trade routes and transport options of the late Hanseatic period.”

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Tom Metcalfe is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Live Science based in London, UK. Tom writes mainly on science, space, archaeology, Earth and oceans. He has also written for the BBC, NBC News, National Geographic, Scientific American, Air & Space and more. The election could serve as a reminder that, nearly 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the waters of the Elbe still deepen

The Elbe cuts a diagonal line from the North Sea to the Polish-Czech border. Photo: Wladimir Bulgar/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

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“I imagine Europe as a pair of lungs,” says Reiner Haseloff, the state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, as he looks out from the upper deck of a river cruiser at the winding waterways below. “The Elbe is where the two lungs meet.”

The river that cuts a roughly diagonal line from the North Sea to the Polish-Czech border has been more than a waterway for at least 21 centuries.

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As historian James Hawes points out in a recent book, the Roman emperors dared not venture beyond the Elbe, and in the Middle Ages it formed the eastern border of Charlemagne’s empire.

Hawes shows how this cultural barrier has persisted into modern times, with drastic effect: the Nazi party made a breakthrough in the conservative lands of East Elbia and the Iron Curtain, which placed the river predominantly in the communist east, adding only a military dimension . a century-old cultural divide between the largely Protestant, east-oriented Elbe Germany and the more Catholic, west-oriented Rhine Germany.

The federal election on September 24 will likely bring a reminder that, almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the waters of the Elbe are still deep. “The geographical center of Europe is east of the Elbe,” says Haseloff, a politician in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. “Underestimating this fact is a problem that affects all democratic parties in Germany, including me.”

German Rivers 5 Letters

If Alternative für Deutschland becomes the first openly nationalist party to enter the German parliament since 1961, it will be largely due to its success in the east. Averaging around 7% in the old west in the latest polls, the party will win between 11% and 22% in all eastern states except Berlin. Already in second place in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony and Thuringia, the AfD has realistic hopes of replacing Die Linke as East Germany’s main voice of protest.

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East of the Elbe, where the chancellor has scheduled a disproportionately large number of campaign rallies this month, is also where her decisions at the height of the refugee crisis have drawn the fiercest criticism.

An April 2017 survey suggests social attitudes towards the issue in the former

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