Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Ships at War – An Archaeological and Historical Study of Early Modern Maritime Battlefields in the Baltic

Ämne: Marinarkeologi
Projektledare: Johan Rönnby
Startår: 2013
Projekttyp: Projekt

The project is a cooperation between the disciplines of archaeology and history and a part of the aim to formulate joint project within “Historical Studies” at Södertörn University. The professors Kekke Stadin (history) and Johan Rönnby (maritime archaeology) will share the responsibility for leading the project.
The project also involves two planned postdoktors, Ingvar Sjöblom, Försvarshögkolan (history) and Niklas Eriksson, Södertörn University (archaeology)and a new PhD student (history) at ”Historical studies”.

The investigation of the wrecks mention below is an archaeological work involving several different institutions and companies with MARIS at Södertörn as coordinator of the research. The following project is meant as the academic platform for this. The fieldwork, exhibition and planned international tv-production which also is planned in coonection to this are financed from other sources.

Research perspective

In the summer of 2011 two new spectacular finds of shipwrecks was found in the central Baltic Sea. After years of searching the well-preserved remains of both ”Mars” (1564) and ”Svärdet” (1676) was found. Both were large royal naval ships which after tough and lengthy battles went down.
The new findings, together with previously known wrecks in the Baltic Sea, such as ”Kraveln” (1525), ”Vasa” (1628) and ”Kronan” (1676) gives an opportunity for new insight into the formative period of Sweden’s history as a strong state and a Baltic Empire. The struggle for military and economic control of the Baltic and areas and towns around the inland sea was an important part of this.

The shipwrecks also sheds further light on the way this process played out and in doing so, reveal not only the ship as a principal tool of European state building and, but more generally as both manifestation and agent of social change.

The ongoing documentation of the two newly found wrecks also emphasizes the violent course and the chaotic environment on board during the battles. The sites with all their guns and the ships themselves are well preserved ”maritime battlefield”. This opens up potential issues related to practical solutions in naval battles, but also symbolic, mental and psychological aspects associated with warfare in general and human behavior in such situations and environments. In the end we also wants to dress general questions about the war and its sociology and psychology.