Table of contents:

How tar helped the Vikings, what was the oldest shipwreck and other shipwreck discoveries
How tar helped the Vikings, what was the oldest shipwreck and other shipwreck discoveries

Shipwrecks actually mean a lot more than just "a spectacular sight just for fun." Each such ship is essentially something like a time capsule, and can tell a lot of fascinating facts related to famous explorers, unique ships and completely unexpected technical knowledge used by sailors. Divers also continue to find confirmation of previously unknown great tragedies, incredible treasures and huge ships in completely unexpected places.

1. New artifacts of Franklin

In 1845, Sir John Franklin sailed from Britain in search of the Northwest Passage, which was believed to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In one of the worst polar disasters, both ships of his expedition, the Erebus and the Terror, sank. In this case, all 129 crew members were killed. Since then, several dozen expeditions have been sent to understand the cause of the death of the ill-fated flight and to find the sunken ships. It was possible only 170 years later - in 2014, the Erebus was found at the bottom of the Victoria Strait, and in 2016, the Terror was discovered near King William Island.

The real mystery is what happened after the crew left the sinking ships. Graves, personal belongings and notes were found on the islands, but it was not possible to put together a complete story. In 2018, naval archaeologists attempted to reach Erebus, but dangerous conditions prevented divers from reaching Franklin's cabin and a logbook, which could have suggested what happened. However, archaeologists have managed to recover nine new artifacts, including tools and a jug, cutlery, bottles and buttons. Researchers hope in the near future to get to the ship's log, which was supposed to be preserved in Arctic conditions.

2. Lake Serpent

In 1829, a large schooner called the Lake Serpent, carrying a shipment of limestone, sank on Lake Erie. This case is not unique, because thanks to its treacherous waters, the Great Lakes are famous for the highest number of shipwrecks per square kilometer in the world. In recent years, researchers have searched over 2,000 shipwrecks at the bottom of the Erie in search of the Lake Serpent. Since this was the oldest shipwreck on the lake, this ship could tell a lot about the past. Researchers picked up all the old archives, and also conducted an underwater scan, which revealed a small object near Kellis Island. It was originally thought to be a rock, but a diving expedition discovered that the object was in fact a wooden schooner. Time did not spare her, and not the entire ship survived, but several clues led her to assume that it was the Lake Serpent. Records mention a snake carved on the bow of the ship, and divers discovered half-worn carvings, as well as the presence of limestone boulders in the hold.

3. Tar led to the success of the Vikings

The Vikings terrorized much of Europe in the 8th century, and thanks to their sailing skills, they even managed to get across the Atlantic. The secret to the ships' sturdiness (and the ability to make famous raids) was tar.This amazing technological innovation was discovered by accident. Just recently, road workers in Scandinavia stumbled upon large pits.

Tests have shown that they date from about 680-900 AD. AD - while the Vikings became a real threat to Europe. Archaeologists recognized these structures as kilns in which tar was produced on an industrial scale. Once upon a time there was a dense pine forest in this place. The Vikings used it as a key ingredient in the production of tar, a substance used to make ships waterproof. If the ferocious Scandinavians hadn't figured out how to make tar from pine trees, the story would have looked very different.

4. Treasure hunters versus Florida

Global Marine Exploration (GME) managed to achieve its dream in 2016. Near Cape Canaveral, they discovered a shipwreck containing some of the oldest European artifacts in American waters. The researchers believed they would be paid millions of dollars for such a find, and all the work was carried out with the approval of the Florida authorities. But when GME reported its find, it was told that everything it found belonged to France. When France sued, Florida backed the country's claims, not the company. The judge ruled that the sunken ships belonged to the French expeditions of 1562 and 1565; however, GME research showed that the sunken ships were probably Spanish, and valuable French artifacts (cannons and a marble monument) were removed from the French colony.

In 1565, Fort Caroline was raided by the Spaniards, and the discovered monument matches the description of the monument that stood in shape. GME said they could prove it if they were allowed to get the artifacts for identification (Florida banned this). GME continues its $ 110 million fight, accusing Florida and French officials of collusion.

5. Candidate for the role of "Endeavor"

The Endeavor is one of the most wanted ships in the world. It was on it that Captain James Cook made his historic voyage and became the first European ship to reach the east coast of Australia (1770). For most people, this is where the Endeavor story ends. However, the ship had an exciting life after that. Renamed Lord Sandwich 2, it became a British floating prison for American soldiers during the Revolutionary War. During the assault on Rhode Island in 1778, Cook's ship was sunk along with 12 others to block access to the harbor from the sea. In 2018, archaeologists discovered a number of shipwrecks off the East Coast of the United States. The remains of a ship were found near Newport, the hull of which matched the size of the Endeavor. Now they are going to conduct an examination to prove that the wood comes from northern England, where the ship was built. The rest of the sunken ships were built from American or Indian timber.

6. Mysterious ships of Ireland

A new map of Irish shipwrecks was published in 2018. It was literally dotted with 3554 approximate marks, denoting sunken ships. These coordinates are scattered along the entire coast of Ireland and across the North Atlantic Ocean over an area of ​​919,445 square kilometers. As far as researchers know, the oldest shipwreck dates back to the 16th century, and the most famous is the British ocean liner Lusitania, which sank to the bottom near northeastern Ireland in 1915 after a direct hit from a German torpedo. This incident was part of why the United States entered World War I, with over 100 American passengers killed.

The most recent shipwreck is an Irish fishing boat that sank in 2017 (crew survived). However, most shipwrecks are unnamed. Nobody knows the names of the sunken ships or what kind of catastrophe led to the death of the ships.And the most incredible thing about this huge "submarine fleet" is that the map is incomplete. In fact, only one fifth of the actual shipwrecks near Ireland are recorded. According to the Irish government, an additional 14,414 other ships were wrecked around Ireland, but their locations are unknown.

7. Rare Viking burials

One of the landmarks of Norway is the massive Gilly Mound. Located just off the Rv41 118 motorway, the mound has already provided many Viking Age finds, among which eight burials and the outline of five longhouses stand out. While it has long been known that Gilly is an ancient grave, archaeologists have never explored it. The assumption that farmers and marauders had plundered everything from the graves a long time ago turned out to be not so in 2018. After illuminating the embankment with a special radar, the researchers found a boat 20 meters long. Surprisingly, the radar also found additional burial mounds and longhouses in the area. The ship was only 51 centimeters above the surface of the earth. It was an incredibly rare Viking burial, probably dating back to about 800 AD. Images from the instrument suggested that the burial vessel was in good shape, but no human remains or burial items were found. Excavations have not yet been carried out, but it is worth noting that only three Viking burial ships have been discovered in Norway so far.

8. Claims by Ruddock

Alvin Ruddock was a historian who died in 2005. She studied early British explorers for a long time, including William Weston and John Cabot, and made some startling claims about these people. But when Ruddock died, there was no real evidence for her claims (the scientist somehow destroyed most of her research). It was already known that King Henry VII supported Weston's expedition to explore the New World. In 2018, researchers found old scrolls describing travels from Bristol, including Weston's expedition. So by chance, the 500-year-old record became the first evidence of Ruddock's claims. The scroll said that the king had rewarded Weston with a huge sum because he was clearly pleased with the explorer.

One of Ruddock's claims was that Cabot's 1498 expedition involved monks who founded the first European church in North America. The explorer also claimed that Weston visited this settlement in Newfoundland in 1499 before traveling to Labrador to find the Northwest Passage. Scientists believe that this is why the king rewarded Weston so generously. Records indicated that Cabot was also awarded in 1498 before he sailed, and the fate of his ships remains unknown. Nevertheless, as Ruddock argued, Cabot was able to explore much of the east coast of North America by 1500.

9. Oldest intact shipwreck in the world

The ocean floor is literally littered with shipwrecks that all look very similar. But in 2018, one wreck was discovered that was significantly different from the others. At the bottom of the Black Sea lies the most ancient ship that has survived intact. The 2400-year-old ship with a length of 23 meters even has rudders, masts and rowing benches. It has survived so well due to the lack of oxygen at a depth of about 1.6 kilometers. The age and integrity of the ship were so rare that most researchers never even thought that such a find was possible. The appearance of the vessel was almost completely consistent with the image of the ship on a Greek vase, dating back to the same period. It is noteworthy that this is the first time that a real ship matched the image on ancient ceramics. Scientists have suggested that it was an ancient Greek merchant ship.

10. Holy grail of shipwreck

In 1708, the Spanish galleon "San Jose" sank during a battle with the British. When he disappeared into the Caribbean, a huge treasure sank to the bottom. A cargo of precious metals, precious stones and artifacts has made this vessel a true holy grail for treasure hunters and archaeologists. In 2015, news broke that a sunken ship with cargo valued at up to $ 17 billion had been discovered. The discovery was kept secret to protect the ship from marauders. In addition to the obvious value of the treasure, the artifacts on board also contain valuable historical information about the life of the 18th century in Europe. The vessel was found at a depth of about 600 meters partially buried in bottom sediments. The pictures from the bathyscaphe revealed cannons that exactly matched the bronze cannons of the San Jose. Researchers were allowed to post footage in 2018.

Popular by topic