16th century ship discovered off the coast of The Netherlands

Researchers have found a shipwreck off the coast of the Netherlands from the early 16th century – the oldest find of a seafaring ship in Dutch waters ever.

The ship was discovered during salvage efforts to recover shipping containers that fell from the MSC Zoe on January 2nd of this year. Researcher initially believed it was just a shipping container when they first scanned this region, but soon realized it was the remains of a ship about 30 metres long and 7 metres wide.


Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, explained “This find can rightfully be called a lucky accident. This spectacular discovery was made while salvaging the containers. I am very curious about what information will be revealed. That is also the beauty of archeology: it stimulates your curiosity and imagination. I think this find is an enrichment of Dutch heritage.”

Copper plates and wooden beams were found during the salvage operation. Research shows that the wood was felled in 1536 and that the ship was built around 1540 in the Netherlands. After investigation, the copper plates are dated around the same period. The plates have marks from the Fugger family – one fo the wealthiest families in European history – who at the time had a monopoly on copper production.

Archaeologist Martijn Manders told the BBC that the copper would have originally come from mines in Slovakia, taken to Gdansk, and then shipped to Antwerp.


The Netherlands’ Cultural Heritage Agency plans to continue archaeological research on the shipwreck and bring more of its remains to the surface.

Top Image: Map of the Dutch coast by Sebastian Münster in the 16th century.


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