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Sweden. Spices from 500 years ago have been preserved in a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea

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Saffron, pepper and cloves were found in the wreck of a 15th-century ship that sank in the Baltic Sea. As scientists explain, the ship found in the port near the town of Ronneby in Sweden belonged to the king of Denmark and Norway, hence such expensive accessories were on board. Despite the passage of years, the spices are in very good condition.

In 1495, John of Oldenburg, King of Denmark and Norway, arrived in Sweden aboard his flagship Gribshunden to attend a meeting with the Swedish ruler. While political talks were being held ashore, the moored ship caught fire and sank in the harbor, taking most of the crew with it. The wreck was found only in the 1960s and since then has provided scientists with a lot of information about the art of warfare in 15th century Scandinavia – and beyond.

Spices worthy of a king

During the excavations, which have been conducted since 2019 by Brendan Foley from Lund University, scientists managed to find saffron, pepper, cloves and other spices that were buried in the bottom around the wreck. Archaeologists are not sure how the spices survived over 500 years in such good condition – they suppose they could have originally been in containers that decayed over time and were covered with a layer of silt.

Spices found at the bottom of the Baltic SeaReuters

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“Baltic is strange”

– The Baltic Sea is strange. The sea has low oxygen, low temperature and low salinity, so it can preserve a lot of organic matter that wouldn’t be well preserved in other seas around the world, Foley said. “Earlier on Gribshunden, we discovered the remains of sturgeon, the prestige meal for the king, but finding such spices is quite unusual.

Mikael Larsson of Lund University, who studied the finds, admitted that he did not expect to find spices in the shipwreck.

– This is the only archaeological context in which we have been able to find saffron. It’s something unique, special,” he added.

Spices found at the bottom of the Baltic SeaReuters

Not only in the Baltic Sea

In 15th-century Europe, spices such as saffron and cloves were status symbols, as only the wealthy could afford to buy goods imported from outside Europe. In addition to spices, scientists also found dried fruits and seeds, as well as traces of henbane – a plant used in medicine.

Spices found at the bottom of the Baltic SeaReuters

Spices found at the bottom of the Baltic SeaReuters

Reuters, Arkeonews, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: Reuters

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