Strange Anomaly On The Sea Floor Turns Out To Be An Amazing Discovery

Copper plates. RCA

What researchers are calling the oldest discovery of a seagoing ship in Dutch waters was discovered entirely by accident.

I know, right? I can't even find matching socks most mornings.

The 16th-century Dutch ship was revealed earlier this month during a salvage effort to find more than 200 shipping containers that were thrown overboard from the MSC Zoe earlier this year during a violent storm. The ship was sailing from Portugal to Germany at the time. Though some containers and other lost freight washed ashore in Germany and the Netherlands, officials have been searching for other mission cargo using ship-born sonar. When searchers picked up on something on the seafloor, they thought it might be a shipping container – it turned out to be 300-year-old timber and almost five tons of copper plates, reports Live Science

“This find can rightfully be called a lucky accident. This spectacular discovery was made while salvaging the containers. I am very curious about what information will be revealed. That is also the beauty of archeology: it stimulates your curiosity and imagination. I think this find is really an enrichment of Dutch heritage,” said Dutch Minister Van Engelshoven in a statement.  

An analysis of the timber showed that it was felled in the Netherlands in 1536, while the 13-meter-long (42-foot) ship was built around 1540. The vessel was transporting copper plates dating to around the same period with markings from the Fugger family, a German mercantile and banking dynasty during the 15th- and 16th-centuries who has been credited with developing capitalistic economic concepts. 

Wooden beam with an imprint of round copper plates. Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands says the find is of “high cultural and archaeological value.”         

This year has already been one filled with shipwreck discoveries. In January, a series of storms washed cargo from the Dutch merchant ship the Schiedam, which sunk in 1684 and wasn’t discovered until 1971. Among the new finds were rusty, worn 17th-century hand grenades and decorative marble. Just last month, an anchor dating back to between 1600 and 1800 was found of Britain’s Cornish coast, its size and age leading some to believe it could be from the English vessel the Merchant Royal lost in 1641. 

The history of the ship is as murky as the waters it was found in, and it remains unclear who it belonged to and where it was going. Dutch officials say they will be conducting further research on the shipwreck.  

Four round plates found in the ship. RCA

 

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