Sunken Vasa ship reveals 17th century life in detail

The Vasa ship capsized and sank in Stockholm 1628. After 333 years on the sea bed the mighty warship was salvaged and today is the world’s best preserved 17th century ship and one of the most visited museums in Scandinavia. Click here for a 12-minute video offered to Museum visitors. Click here for a 4-minute documentary on the ship on the Smithsonian Channel.

The Swedish warship, built between 1626 and 1628, sank after sailing roughly 1,300 meters into her maiden voyage on 10 August 1628. She fell into obscurity after most of her valuable bronze cannon were salvaged in the 17th century, until she was located again in the late 1950s in a busy shipping area in Stockholm harbor. 

Vasa was armed with powerful guns and built with a high stern, which would act as a firing platform in boarding actions for some of the 300 soldiers it was supposed to carry. A light gust of wind toppled the ship over on its side. As water flooded through the gun portals of the ship, it sank in the shallow waters of Stockholm harbor 

During the 1961 recovery, thousands of artifacts and the remains of at least 15 people were found in and around Vasa‘s hull by marine archaeologists. Among the many items found were clothing, weapons, cannon, tools, coins, cutlery, food, drink and six of the ten sails. The artifacts and the ship herself have provided scholars with invaluable insights into details of naval warfare, shipbuilding techniques and everyday life in early 17th-century Sweden. (Above) The paint on the stern sculptures has been recreated.