Last week, an international research team salvaged a wooden sculpture from the 1600-century wreck called Spökskeppet ("The Ghostship") which is one of the best preserved wrecks in the Baltic.
According to the Swedish Heritage Act findings from within the Swedish economic zone has to be handed over to the Swedish government if they were salvaged by a Swedish vessel or transferred to Swedish territory. The salvage team has now transferred the sculpture to the Swedish National Maritime Museums, which intend to display the sculpture at the National Maritime Museum.
On 11 May, a sculpture was salvaged from the well-preserved 1600-century wreck Spökskeppet, east of the island of Gotland in the Baltic sea. The wreck is a so-called flute ship - a small trading ship from the 1600s built in the Dutch building traditions. (see info box)
The sculpture which is made of pine was sitting on the outside of the ship's stern. It is about 1.70 meters long and 50 inches wide and depicts a bearded male wearing a hat and acoat. Perhaps it depicts a typical tradesman? The Dutch Heritage Authority which participated in the salvage operation have requsted to borrow the sculpture for display in the Netherlands.
We have received the sculpture and were are now in the process of documenting it and then we will have to to decide how to best preserve it. We will then submit an application to the National Heritage Board to incorporate the sculpture at the National Maritime Museum. Only then can we decide whether we will lend it, "says Mr Olsson, who is head of the Archaeology Unit of the Maritime Museum in Stockholm where the sculpture is now stored.
"Spökskeppet" was discovered only a few years ago by the company Marin Metrology AB in connection with the search for the missing DC3 - see the latest issue of X-Ray Mag (#36) for further details) while filming for a TV-series about divers for the Swedish Television. It rests at a depth of 125 meters east of the island of Gotland. The very well preserved wreck has attracted considerable interest in Holland.
In 2008 field work was carried out on the site by an international marine archaeological research team has now returned to the wreck of the new studies. The shipwreck has not identified, and we do not know under what flag it sailed. The ship was built in the Dutch tradition, but also the Vasa, which was built in Stockholm is built by Dutch shipbuilder, said Andreas Olsson. Holland's equivalent of the National Heritage Board has now offered to preserve the sculpture in that they can borrow and exhibit it in a planned exhibition.
Baltic-preserved shipwrecks tell of an international shipping and trade. It is a common European concern to preserve and research into this cultural heritage. In this case, the Dutch see the wreck as a symbol of a Dutch Golden Age. It is not unlike the importance of Vasa ship to come to Sweden, "says Mr Olsson. The research group has salvaged sculpture headed by Södertörn University College in Stockholm, which conducts research and education in marine archeology. The group also includes researchers from Holland, USA and UK