Mars the Miraculous

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Photo:  Mars the Miraculous is the theme for one of the key talks at this year’s NAS conference Photo: Ingemar Lundgren, Ocean Discovery

One talk not to be missed at this year’s NAS annual conference on 2 November will centre on spectacular new shipwrecks found in the Baltic Sea.

The talk on “Mars the Miraculous – The investigation of a legendary Baltic shipwreck from 1564” will be by project leader Johan Rönnby, Professor Maritime Archaeology, Maritime Archaeological Research Institute (MARIS), Södertörn University , Sweden.

Dr Rönnby told NAS that Mars the Miraculous is a part of a wider project at Södertörn University called Ships at War -Early-Modern Maritime Battlefields in the Baltic.

In the summer of 2011, two spectacular new shipwrecks were found in the central Baltic Sea after years of searching - the well-preserved remains of "Mars" (1564) and "Svärdet" (1676).

Both were large royal naval ships which sank following lengthy battles. The new finds, along with previously known wrecks in the Baltic Sea, such as “Gripshunden” (1495), "Kraveln" (1525), "Vasa" (1628) and "Kronan" (1676), provide an opportunity for new insights into a formative period of state building around the Baltic Sea.

“The shipwrecks shed further light on the way this process played out, revealing that ships were not only a principal tool of European state building, but were more generally both a manifestation and agent of social change”, said Dr Rönnby.

The ongoing documentation of the two newly found wrecks also emphasises the violence and the chaotic onboard environment during battles. The sites, with all their guns and the ships themselves, are well preserved examples of maritime battlefields. Dr Rönnby added: “Our aim is to address general questions about war and the sociology and psychology linked to the battlefield.”

The archaeological investigation of the shipwrecks is being conducted by techdivers, multibeams and Blueview techniques. The work involves several different institutions and companies, with MARIS at Södertörn University as coordinator; but also the Swedish National Defence College, Southampton University, Deep Sea Production, Ocean Discovery and Marin Mätteknik. The project "Ships at war" is an academic platform for fieldwork, exhibitions and planned international television productions.

Don’t miss your chance to attend - Bookings are now open for the NAS Conference 2013 taking place on Saturday 2nd November 2013.