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The Gribshunden shipwreck

The wreck of the royal ship Gribshunden from 1495 lies preserved in the sediments off the coast of Blekinge in the Baltic Sea. The site is currently being excavated and analyzed by archaeologists, geologists, historians and environmental scientists from Lund University and Blekinge Museum. The goal is to use modern and advanced techniques and analyzes to find out more about which objects and items the ship brought with it into the deep more than 500 years ago.


The ship Gribshunden belonged to the Danish King Hans, who was travelling to the Swedish town of Kalmar when the ship sank off Ronneby in a sudden and catastrophic event, possible caused by a fire onboard the ship. Accordingly, many objects and goods that were onboard the ship were not rescued before it sank but remain to this day on the wreck site, often well-preserved due to the unique environmental conditions of the Baltic Sea. With the help of various modern and cutting-edge techniques it is today possible to identify and expose these objects in a whole new way, from food and spices to tools and weapons.

The research

Within our research group we are studying the ancient DNA that can be extracted from food products found inside sealed wooden barrels. A recent study from our research group revealed that one of the barrels contained a cut-up sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), which was identified with a combination of physiological, osteology analyses and ancient DNA analyses.

The research and analyses on the Gribshunden shipwreck will continue to provide unique information about what the environment of the Baltic Sea would have looked like during the Middle Ages. It can also tell us something what a royal ship would have carried during its voyages, and which trade routes would have been used by merchants at the time.

The research is funded by the Crafoord Foundation and Blekinge Museum.