Science

Perfectly preserved 12th-century 'Viking-style' ship discovered in a German port


Perfectly preserved 12th-century ‘Viking-style’ ship discovered in a German port was built entirely using axes and adzes, researchers find by using 3D scanner technology

  • The ‘viking’ ship dates back to the year 1188 according to archaeological experts
  • It was pulled out of ten feet of water at the German port where it was found 
  • Pieces of timber from the 80 x 13 foot vessel were retrieved from the vessel 
  • It offers a glimpse into the Baltic trade before raiding groups were formed 

A 12th century viking-style ship dating back to 1188 has been lifted from ten feet under water at a German port where it was found.

Pieces of timber from the 80 x 13 foot (25 x 4 metre) vessel were pulled up after being found just ten feet (three metres) under water. 

A Nordic research team lifted the ship out and, using a 3D scanner, was able to work out that it was constructed using axes and adzes, a type of cutting tool.

The ancient ship dates back to 1188 and, thanks to the seawater and harbour silt, the ship’s timbers have been perfectly preserved, experts say. 

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A 12th century 'viking ship' which dates back to 1188 has been lifted from ten feet under water at a German port where it was found. Here, Massimiliano Ditta, a maritime archaeologist at the Stavanger Maritime Museum examines the ship underwater

A 12th century ‘viking ship’ which dates back to 1188 has been lifted from ten feet under water at a German port where it was found. Here, Massimiliano Ditta, a maritime archaeologist at the Stavanger Maritime Museum examines the ship underwater

Archaeologists from Stavanger Maritime Museum say that the vessel is of Viking descent and was likely to have carried cargo like timber, stones and beer, according to a Fox report.

Experts used 3D scanner technology to reveal that the open-decked ship was constructed using axes and adzes alone.

Analysis of the ship’s timbers revealed that the hunks of wood were originally from Western Sweden. 

Maritime Archaeologist Dr. Jens Auer, who led the project, described the ship as a descendant of Viking vessels and said ‘It was a heavy, load-bearing cargo ship.’

It had overlapping pine planks, clinker-style, with 'beautiful curved construction' made during a relatively peaceful period of the time,' he said in a statement. Experts estimate that the ship had a crew of 8 to 12 men. Here, a 3D scan of one of the ship's timbers

It had overlapping pine planks, clinker-style, with ‘beautiful curved construction’ made during a relatively peaceful period of the time,’ he said in a statement. Experts estimate that the ship had a crew of 8 to 12 men. Here, a 3D scan of one of the ship’s timbers

According to archaeologists, the ancient ship dates back to 1188, the seawater and harbor silt, the ship's timbers are perfectly preserved. Here, a diagram of the shipwreck

According to archaeologists, the ancient ship dates back to 1188, the seawater and harbor silt, the ship’s timbers are perfectly preserved. Here, a diagram of the shipwreck

The ship, of Nordic design, was built with ‘great care and durability’, according to researchers. 

It had overlapping pine planks, clinker-style, with ‘beautiful curved construction’ and was made during a relatively peaceful period of the time. 

Experts estimate that the ship had a crew of 8 to 12 men.

‘The Wismar wreck is of great importance because it tells us about the type of vessels that were crossing the seas of Northern Europe during the high medieval period,’ Massimiliano Ditta, maritime archaeologist at the Stavanger Maritime Museum told Fox News, via email. 

The Nordic research team lifted the ship out and using a 3D scanner, were able to glean that it was constructed using axes and adzes. Here, one of the ship's timbers recovered from wrecksite

The Nordic research team lifted the ship out and using a 3D scanner, were able to glean that it was constructed using axes and adzes. Here, one of the ship’s timbers recovered from wrecksite

‘Historically we were in a period of transition and a shift of economic power. This is reflected in the construction of the ship, and due to its incredible state of preservation, it is a treasure trove of information not otherwise accessible.’ 

After lifting the wreck out of the Baltic waters, experts used an Artec handheld 3D scanner technology to scan the timbers at a warehouse in the German city of Schwerin. 

The scanning process took one month, with the scans used to create a 3D-printed small scale model of the ship.

Ditta, who oversaw the 3D scanning of the wreck, says that the ship offers a glimpse into Baltic trade before towns in the region formed a powerful trading group known as the Hanseatic League. 

This was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe. 

Growing from a few North German towns in the late 1100s, the league came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries along the coasts of Northern Europe. 

WHO WERE THE VIKINGS?

The Viking age in European history was from about 700 to 1100 AD.

During this period many Vikings left their homelands in Scandinavia and travelled by longboat to other countries, like Britain and Ireland.

When the people of Britain first saw the Viking longboats they came down to the shore to welcome them. 

However, the Vikings fought the local people, stealing from churches and burning buildings to the ground.

The people of Britain called the invaders ‘Danes’, but they came from Norway and Sweden as well as Denmark.

The name ‘Viking’ comes from a language called ‘Old Norse’ and means ‘a pirate raid’.

The first Viking raid recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was around 787 AD.

It was the start of a fierce struggle between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings.

 



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