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Andi 14th November 2012 11:10 AM

Armory of a 1600-1622 sunken ship wreck in river Elbe at Hamburg-Wittenbergen
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In the permanent exhibition of Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte (hamburgmuseum) in Hamburg, Germany is a display of some finds dredged out of the river Elbe near Hamburg-Wittenbergen in 1979-1981. The ship probably sunk bewteen 1600 and 1622. It accientially cought fire while firing salut in the Harbour of Hamburg, and later exploded and sunk some 4 kilometers downstream. It was believed to be a smuggler carrying weapons and other merchandise for Spain. It is most possible that this wreck is identical with the one depicted on a copper engraved print mentioning a ships havary of 2. July 1622 near Hamburg-Wittenbergen.

Some of the wrecks cannons were found loaded. One was loaded with large iron nails, iron fragments, clay and hemp fabric (see image below), the other one with 9 inch iron nails embedded in loam (unfortunately no image available).

Very interesting is a Stabringgeschütz having soewhat like an iron rope as reinforcement of the muzzle. In the present status of conservation it was not possible for me to decide if this is really a braided/twisted rope of iron or if this is only a rope shaped iron band - or possibly it is a braided/twisted iron rope which has been forged over.

Other notable finds are lots of aquebuse barrels, knife blades and knifes and more than 8 metric tons of copper ingots.

Andi 14th November 2012 01:49 PM

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Here are two more images of the find.

First one is a tip of a powder horn with cap.

The second photo was made by Sebastian Sonntag showing the inner side of the reconstructed ships deck in the Museum. Both cannos seems to be breech loaders. At the left piece (image also above from its muzzle with the decorative twisted iron band) the end is broken or rotten away. The piece on the right piece has an inserted chartridge. Here are also some of the ston balls found in the wreck.

M ELEY 14th November 2012 08:58 PM

Wow! Great pics! If it has anything to do with shipwrecks, naval weapons or pirates, it will catch my interest. I'm assuming the Elbe was a deep river to allow such a large ship to sail in it? The bent aquebus barrels are particularly interesting. The weight shifting in the hold or the ship's collapse must have done that.

Andi 15th November 2012 11:38 AM

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Thanks. Taking the pictures was a bit difficult as it is rather dark in the exhibition but with a special permission for a Wikipedia-Project I was able to use a Tripod and other tools :D For example the exposure time of the Stabringgeschütz has been 30 seconds.

You are right sailing was the only way to reach the harbour of Hamburg from the North Sea until the steam engine were used for powering ships. Even hauling or towing was not possible. The River Elbe has been deep enough and it was also wide enough for beating against the wind.

The arquebuse barrels were new and unused matchlock types. Either they were bent by a heavy weight or by the excessive heat of the burning wreck. Especially one barrel is smoothly bent on its end.

Attached you will find the copper engraved print of the exploding ship from 2nd July 1622, which is most probably showing the origin of most/all of this objects. I think the image gives a good idea of the incident costing 45 of the ships crews lifes.

As no records were found in any harbour or customs books of Hamburg regarding the payload (copper ingots, arquebuses etc.) for this ship, historians believe that it was going to break the Dutch blockade of Spain, smuggling strategic merchandise and weapons. That times the hanseatic City of Hamburg was bound by contract with the Nedtherlands to disable any supplies to Spain - but some hanseatic merchants made a good business out of it. It is believed that the ships canons were loaded in order to repel official patrols and pirates.

fernando 15th November 2012 01:13 PM

Great reconstruction and great pictures. Thanks a lot for sharing :) .
It looks to my humbles eyes, as also judging by the context that, the rope reinforcement of the cannon, was actualy mechanicaly twisted iron that was after applied to the muzzle.
I don't know whether to be more amazed with the bending of the aquebus barrels or with their extremely long length.
With less dimension but also noteworthy (to me :o ) are the iron nails. It looks like the technique of making them the was the same until just the other day. I was given a dozen of nails recuperated from old houses ceiling oak beams, probably from the XIX century, that have precisely the same aspect.

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