11.07.2012 change 11.07.2012

A fragment of eighteenth-century shipwreck recovered from the bottom of the Dead Vistula

PAP © 2012 / Adam Warżawa PAP © 2012 / Adam Warżawa

Part of the eighteenth-century boat, so-called Vistula punt, has been recovered from the bottom of the Dead Vistula in Gdańsk and transported to the National Maritime Museum, where it will be examined, and then possibly become an exhibit in an underwater museum.

The punt (flat-bottomed boat once used to transport goods) wreck was found by employees of the Maritime Office in Gdynia during the river bed survey before the planned deepening of the Dead Vistula. Four other wrecks were also found very close to the punt. All boats probably come from the eighteenth century. Three of them need to be removed, because they rest directly on the track to be deepened.

The first excavations have already been carried out. "The punt was too large to pull it out in one piece, so we cut the bow, which barred our way to another boat lying on the bottom, and we used a pontoon to bring it to the museum" - said Waldemar Ossowski, archaeologist with the National Maritime Museum.

Ossowski explained that the bow part of the punt, measuring five by six meters, would now be examined and documented photographically. After this work is completed, the decision will be made on what will happen to the excavated part: it could end up in the museum, or at the bottom of the Gulf of Gdańsk, where some wrecks already rest and an underwater museum is being slowly prepared.

The punt is quite a find for archaeologists. "This is the first discovery of such vessel from the eighteenth century in Poland" - said Wanda Stompór of the National Maritime Museum, and added that scientists would finally have the opportunity to compare the excavated part with rich iconographic and historical sources that survived to our times.

The very first glance at the bow of the excavated wreck excited archaeologists: they found a carved decoration in the shape of a six star. "According to folk beliefs, this star had magical properties, defended against evil spirits, disasters, diseases and drove evil away" - explained Wanda Stompór.

In three or four weeks, another wreck will be recovered from the bottom of the Dead Vistula: a wooden hull of the ship built probably around 1730.

Excavations prior to the deepening of the Dead Vistula are being carried out by PRPiH Marinex. Friends of the National Maritime Museum Association assists in the study of shipwrecks in collaboration with the Museum.

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