German archaeologists display treasures found in 400-year-old ship wreck

German archaeologists display treasures found in 400-year-old ship wreck

Archaeologists in Germany have revealed details about the objects found at the wreck of a 400-year-old Hanseatic sailing ship, discovered in a Lübeck river in 2021.

Trinkets found at Lübeck wreck site revealed

18 months after it was discovered at the bottom of the Trave River in Schleswig-Holstein, German archaeologists have revealed more information about the objects they have found on the wreck of a Hanseatic trading ship, thought to have been built in 1650.

Porcelain, parts of the ship’s rigging, the ship’s stern and 180 pieces of wood have been taken from the 25-metre-long wreck. The site lies 11 metres deep in the river and was found accidentally in November 2021 by the Waterways and Shipping Company during a routine check-up of the shipping lane.

Further discoveries include a bottle with the word, “Londn” and a crown stamped at its neck, and limited remains of 150 barrels of quicklime that the ship was transporting. All of these objects will now be recorded using a 3D scanner and stored in tanks of water to preserve their state and avoid drying out or decay.

According to Lübeck’s Culture Senator Monika Frank, experts are also considering re-sinking the debris once they have conducted their research in order to preserve the wreck for future generations.

Hanseatic trading ship was travelling from Scandinavia

Before the debris was brought to the surface, employees at Lübeck’s Waterways and Shipping Company made 13 trips down to the wreck to photograph and record the condition of the site. 

After sending the wooden planks to be dated, archaeologists said they believed the wreck was of a typical cargo vessel of the Hanseatic era. The ship was transporting quicklime, a material used for building in the early modern period that turns solid upon contact with water, creates heat and can cause a combustion reaction. It is thought that the combination of a leak and the quicklime reaction is what caused the ship to flounder.

Thumb image credit: Anasteziia /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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