Listen to this article Well-Preserved 500-Year-Old Spices Found On Baltic Shipwreck By Archaeologists.
Archaeologists in Lund, Sweden have made a remarkable discovery on the wreck of a royal ship that sank off Sweden’s Baltic coast more than 500 years ago. The discovery, a “unique” cache of well-preserved spices, ranging from saffron to peppercorns and ginger, sheds new light on the importance of spices in the global trade networks of the 15th century.
The Wreck of the Gribshund
King Hans of Denmark and Norway possessed ownership of the vessel, known as the Gribshund. The vessel caught fire and sank in 1495 while the monarch was attending a political meeting ashore in Sweden. Rediscovered by sports divers in the 1960s, sporadic excavations of the ship have taken place in recent years. Previous dives recovered large items such as figureheads and timber.
The Discovery of the Spices
Now, an excavation led by Brendan Foley, an archaeological scientist at Lund University, has uncovered a remarkable cache of spices buried in the silt of the boat. Foley states that the Baltic has a peculiar characteristic of being low in oxygen, temperature, and salinity. As a result, numerous organic materials are well-preserved in the Baltic, whereas they wouldn’t be conserved as well elsewhere in the world ocean system. But to find spices like this is quite extraordinary.”
The Significance of the Spices
The spices discovered on the Gribshund would have represented a status symbol, as only the affluent could purchase goods such as saffron or cloves that were imported from outside Europe. The discovery of these valuable spices provides us with a rare glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the ruling elite during this time period. Lund University researcher Mikael Larsson, who has been studying the finds, said: “This is the discovery of a lifetime.”
The Importance of the Find
The discovery of the well-preserved spices on the Gribshund is an important archaeological find in the Baltic Sea. It sheds new light on the lengths that monarchs would go to obtain valuable goods and the global trade networks of the 15th century. The excavation of the site is ongoing, and researchers hope to uncover even more artifacts that will provide further insight into the lives of those who lived during this period.
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