Medieval Shipwreck Raised from the Depths for the First Time
Using advanced technology, Dutch marine archaeologists and salvagers have raised a cog (small trading ship) that plied the waters of the Baltic and North seas in the 15th century.
Construction workers discovered the 40-ton, 20-by-8-meter (65-by-26-foot) vessel in 2012 while preparing to do some excavation work in the city of Kampen. The small ship was buried in silt and sand.
Archaeologists, led by Wouter Waldus, said that they think people of the time deliberately sank the boat to alter the flow of the Ijssel River, a Rhine tributary.
“The fact that we were able to raise the Ijssel cog [a type of wooden vessel] in its entirety and in one attempt is a fantastic achievement by the entire team,” Waldus stated. “The shipwreck can become a symbol of our rich maritime history, and I fully expect many people, both young and old, to be amazed by and start enjoying this ship from the Hanseatic period's fascinating story.”
Raising the Ijssel cog in Kampen. (Rijkswaterstaat)
Experts said the metal joints of the vessel make it sturdier than similar medieval ships, allowing them to raise it more easily without seeing it disintegrate.
However, they took many precautions to protect the ship, including using computer-controlled cables attached to a metal frame made specially to raise it. It will also be constantly sprayed with water so it doesn’t dry up and disintegrate.
Such a well-preserved find is rare. The ship even had an oven made of arched bricks and glazed tiles on the rear deck.
The cog still harbored its ancient galley, complete with a glazed tile deck and a brick oven. The bricks, a traditional Dutch type known as "klostermoppen," date to the 13th century. (Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands)
The archaeologists have dubbed the ship Ijsselkogge after the river delta in which it was found.
Kampen, the Dutch city where the ship was raised, was an important trading town in the Hanseatic League of the 12th to 16th centuries. Entoen.nu explains the roots of the Hanseatic League:
“A Hansa was originally a collaborative arrangement between merchants in various cities who traded in the same goods. By working together, they could reduce their costs, travel more safely (together), make purchases or sell in bulk and arm themselves against the capricious whims of liege lords. In 1356, the Hansa towns formed a league of not just merchants but whole towns. The decision to form the league was made in Lubeck, a town in what is modern day Germany.”
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The Hanze or Hanseatic League became a powerful network of towns stretching across Norway, Poland, the Baltic States, Germany, Belgium, and of course, the Netherlands. The members of the league traded outside their own border with Spanish cities and London.
This ship just raised from the Ijssel River was typical in size. The cogs of the Hanseatic League ranged from 15 to 30 meters (49.2-98.4 ft.) and carried wine, beer, animal skins, grains, salt, fish and cloth. They sailed the seas and rivers, and the ports had warehouses and many merchants’ homes.
Ijsselkogge in Kampen. (Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands)
The city of Kampen was a leading center of trade and commerce until it was replaced by Amsterdam in the 1500s, says Brittanica.com. Today Kampen is a smaller city with about 50,000 residents. Kampen will also play host to the New Hanseatic League’s Hanse Day in 2017.
“The new Hanseatic League currently has 176 member towns and cities in 16 European countries, making it the largest voluntary association of towns and cities in the world,” says goDutch.com. “The members […] include some of the former large trading warehouse locations such as Novgorod in north-west Russia, as well as some of the smaller trading posts. In medieval times, the Hanseatic League met annually on a ‘Hanse Day’ in order to agree on joint action. The new Hanse has revived this tradition.”
Featured Image: Construction workers were carrying out an underwater investigation when they made the unique discovery of a Medieval cog with a brick-arched oven and glazed tiles on the rear deck. Source: Ukraine Today
By Mark Miller