Divers from Finland have made an unexpected discovery while exploring the depths of the Baltic Sea and finding an incredibly well-preserved shipwreck that dates back almost 400 years.
Volunteer divers from the non-profit Badewanne team more often encounter destroyed 20th-century relics sunk during World War I and World War II naval battles, so it was a huge surprise to uncover what appears to be a largely undamaged Dutch merchant ship from the 17th century.
The ship, an example of a Dutch ‘flute’ (or flute), was found near the mouth of the Gulf of Finland, in the easternmost waters of the Baltic Sea.
At a depth of approx. 85 meters (approx. 280 feet), the Badewanne diving team discovered this Dutch time capsule lying on the seabed, almost completely preserved and intact.
Shows only minor damage caused by subsequent pelagic trawling with fishing nets, otherwise the ship is frozen in a kind of stasis from the 1
In warmer waters, tree-drilling organisms thrive and can do countless damage to relics like this, but here the chemistry of the Baltic Sea – and the unknown nature of the whistle sinking – has left us with a remarkable relic for further study.
Even the ship’s hold is full, divers say, still carrying its stock of supplies and goods, as Dutch cargo ships largely dominated the seaborne trade in this part of the world thanks to the groundbreaking advances shown by the whistle itself.
These ships, which in their first iterations originated in the 16th century, sacrificed everything for their important cargo. Unlike other times’ boats designed to switch between functioning as cargo ships and warships, the three-masted whistle carried a cost-effective and spacious design that was fully designed to maximize cargo capacity.
Because of this, it could carry as much as double the cargo of rival ships, and advanced rigging systems ensured that its skilled sailing functions could be controlled by small crews, which also made the whistle a more profitable ship to operate.
Despite the success and popularity of the design between the 16th and 18th centuries, relatively few whistles survive to this day. Further study of this find could reveal interesting facts about these historical treasures.
“The wreck reveals many of the flute’s characteristics, but also some unique features, not least the construction of the stern,” says maritime archaeologist Niklas Eriksson from Stockholm University in Sweden, who will work with Finnish authorities and others to study discovery.
“It may be that this is an early example of the design. The wreck thus provides a unique opportunity to examine the development of a type of ship that sailed around the world and became the tool that laid the foundation for early modern globalization.”
This article was originally published by ScienceAlert. Read the original article here.