The 16th century Swedish shipwreck Mars the Magnificent will now be explored thanks to a grant by the National Geographic Society. Like similar wrecks (the Vasa comes to mind immediately) the wreck of the Mars is expected to yield all sorts of artifacts and give historians and archaeologists a detailed view of what is a fairly famous ship in the history of Sweden.
When I was a kid some of my favorite articles in National Geographic magazine were the ones on archaeology. I remember reading about some of the shipwrecks uncovered over the years and the fascinating insights into the daily lives of the sailors that they often provide. Certainly a great deal of the most significant items of 19th century material culture that have been well-preserved for historians have been items from shipwrecks. But to have even older ships, like the Mars, to be discovered in relatively good condition (sure, the ship blew up, but look at all the wood that’s still around!) because of the unique conditions of the Baltic Sea is always such a treat. I always hope that similar wrecks will be found here in the U.S. so I will have a chance to see anything recovered. And we are so much better at finding these wrecks now, and also of recovering and preserving the items found, that there is hope that more historically significant wrecks will yet be found.
I hope so.