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The Netherlands: a medieval wreck has been lifted from the bottom of a river

Very interesting news has reached us from the Netherlands. An almost untouched wreck of a medieval ship has been excavated from the bottom of one of the rivers there. According to findings to date, the vessel was deliberately sunk some 600 years ago, at a time when maritime transport was dominated by members of the
Published: February 18, 2016 - 20:12
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 12:55
The Netherlands: a medieval wreck has been lifted from the bottom of a river

Very interesting news has reached us from the Netherlands. An almost untouched wreck of a medieval ship has been excavated from the bottom of one of the rivers there. According to findings to date, the vessel was deliberately sunk some 600 years ago, at a time when maritime transport was dominated by members of the Hanseatic League.

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The wreck of a wooden vessel with a characteristic flat bottom was already discovered in 2012. This was during an attempt to widen the course of the river Ijssel, which is one of the estuary arms of the mighty Rhine. In addition to this vessel, the wreck of a wooden barge was also found during the work, as well as the remains of a vessel used for navigation in river deltas, the so-called punt.

Kampen - Koggeschip

The excavated wreck has a characteristic structure, known in the Middle Ages as a coga. The whole is preserved in sensational condition. Thanks to its characteristic construction and the use of sealing compounds and metal nails, the whole thing did not fall apart and turn into a pile of boards.

complete-ijssel-cog-recovered

Archaeologists are not sure how the koga ended up on the bottom. One of the most probable versions is that the vessel (and two others mentioned above) was sunk on purpose. The reason for this was that the silt accumulating in the rivers at the time created sandy embankments, making it impossible for ships to enter the harbour. To deal with this problem, the engineers of the time carried out various measures to change the current in order to avoid these embankments. One way was to sink ships.

platform-around-ship

The wreck itself is 20 metres long and 8 metres wide. Unfortunately, many details have not survived, but archaeologists have found anchors nearby, as well as various pieces of equipment used to navigate the vessel.

support-frame

The effort to raise the wreck was immense. In addition to pumps to extract the water, the wreck was wrapped with straps that formed something like a basket, in which the wreck was then lifted up using a crane. It is interesting to note that each of the straps wrapping the wreck had its own separate computer to control its movement. To protect the excavated unit, the archaeologists set up two stations, a dry and a wet station, to protect the whole from drying out and deterioration.

FS150923_37

“The fact that we were able to fully recover the wreck of the koga from the waters of the river Ijssel, and in the first attempt, is a truly magnificent achievement by the entire team that took part in this complex operation. This wreck can become one of the symbols of our beautiful and rich maritime history. I expect that people will be fascinated by both the condition of the vessel and its history and will enjoy coming to see the completed exhibition presenting the wreck from the Hanseatic period.” – said Wouter Waldus, Chief Maritime Archaeologist.

Source: livescience.com Photo: Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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