Divers have raised a wooden figurehead of a sea monster with ears like a lion and a crocodile’s mouth.
The figurehead belonged to a 15th-century Danish warship that sank in 1495.
It comes from the Gribshunden, which was wrecked in the Baltic Sea near Ronneby, Sweden, and is thought to be the world’s best-preserved late medieval ship belonging to Danish King Hans.
It is believed that the ship caught fire while at anchor and sank. MARIS, the maritime archaeological research institute at Södertörn University, had completed a survey of the Gribshunden wreck first, and then raised the 660-pound figurehead, which would have stood at the prow of the ship; it was carved out from the top of an 11-foot-long beam.
A dive on Gribshunden (1495):
Johan Rönnby, Professor of Marine Archaeology at Södertörn University and the director of MARIS, said in a statement: “As a preserved construction, the ship is absolutely unique. It is an archaeological example of the first generation of large carvel-built sailing ships, and is the same age as Columbus’ Santa Maria, but bigger. This gives us a chance, for the first time, of knowing what this type of 15th-century ship looked like.”
According to Marcus Sandekjer, head of the Blekinge Museum, the figurehead is unique. “No similar item from the 15th century has ever been found anywhere in the world.” The intricately carved monster was meant to frighten the enemy, wrote D News.
Ancient ship carving found in Baltic Sea:
“Last time it looked at the world, Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus were still living,” Rönnby said. “It’s a monster. It’s a sea monster, and we have to discuss what kind of animal it is. I think it’s some kind of fantasy animal—a dragon with lion ears and crocodile-like mouth.”
“And there seems to be something in his mouth. There seems to be a person in its mouth and he’s eating somebody,” he added.
It will be interesting to see what else they find in the murky waters.