From saffron to pepper; Archaeologists find 500-year-old spices on Sweden's Baltic Shipwreck

From saffron to pepper; Archaeologists find 500-year-old spices on Sweden's Baltic Shipwreck

The Gribshund, owned by King Hans of Denmark and Norway, has been a sunken wreck off the coast of Ronneby since 1495.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, March 06, 2023, 11:42 AM IST
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Reuters

Old discoveries are always fascinating! Whether it's dinosaur fossils or old wreckage, it's always very fascinating.

In a recent discovery, Archaeologists have uncovered a "unique" cache of well-preserved spices, from strands of saffron to peppercorns and ginger, on the wreck of a royal ship that sunk off Sweden's Baltic coast more than 500 years ago.

The Gribshund, owned by King Hans of Denmark and Norway, has been a sunken wreck off the coast of Ronneby since 1495. It is believed that the ship caught fire and sank when the king attended a political gathering on land in Sweden.

The wreck was 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.

Now an excavation led by Brendan Foley, an archaeological scientist at Lund University, has found the spices buried in the silt of the boat.

The spices would have been a symbol of high status, as only the wealthy could afford goods such as saffron or cloves that were imported from outside Europe. They would have been travelling with King Hans as he attended the meeting in Sweden.

According to Foley, the Baltic is strange in that, with low oxygen, low temperature, and low salinity, so many organic things are well preserved in the Baltic where they wouldn't be well preserved elsewhere in the world ocean system.

"But to find spices like this is quite extraordinary," he told news agency Reuters.

Lund University researcher Mikael Larsson, who has been studying the finds, said, "This is the only archaeological context where we've found saffron. So it's very unique and it's very special."

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