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Ship sunk six hundred years ago recovered from a Dutch river

After three years of work and preparation, a ship has recently been recovered from the bottom of theĀ Ijssel River in the Netherlands. The operation was difficult and delicate, not because the river was especially deep or treacherous, but because the ship, known as a cog, was over 600 years old. While it’s in relatively excellent condition, the wooden craft has required great care in order to preserve one of the better examples of maritime history from Medieval Europe.

Common craft called cogs

Cogs were a class of ships that could range in size from under 10 tons in size to the 55-ton vessel discovered in 2012. Their origins are connected to early Viking longboats, meant to travel the seas with flat keels and open decks. Later iterations added an upper deck, plus platforms at the stern and aft of the ship, allowing for more cargo room for merchant voyages. While these craft were capable of traveling on the sea, they still relied on a steering oar off the side of the ship, rather than a rudder, which didn’t take hold in Europe until at least 1180 CE. On the other hand, the Dutch ship was recovered with both glazed tiles and an intact brick oven, so it certainly wasn’t lacking for features.

Sinking a serviceable ship

While many elements of the ship, including the original rigging and sails, are gone, most of the hull survived thanks to the use of metal in many structural components. There were no obvious signs of an accident or destruction, pointing to a possible intentional sinking of the craft. Further supporting this hypothesis is the fact that the ship was arranged perpendicular to the flow of the river, along-side a smaller punt and a barge. Historical maps indicate that there were concerns with silt building up in the river at the time, and so these boats may have been used to help reshape the currents in the river, ensuring access for larger vessels.

Now that the cog has been carefully removed from the river, it will be dried and preserved as much as possible so that it can be more carefully studied, both by specialists and the general public as part of the Netherlands’ nautical history.

Source: Medieval Shipwreck Hauled from the Deep by Tia Ghose, Live Science

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