500-year-old spices, including saffron and peppercorns, discovered in the king of Denmark's shipwreck
Archaeologists have found a collection of well-preserved 500-year-old spices in a shipwreck.
The ship belonged to King John of Denmark and sank off the coast of Sweden in 1495.
The spices, which include saffron, peppercorns, and ginger, would have been a symbol of high status.
Archaeologists have found a collection of well-preserved 500-year-old spices in the wreck of a royal ship that sank off the Baltic coast of Sweden.
The royal ship, called Gribshunden, belonged to King John of Denmark, and it caught fire and sank off the coast of Sweden in 1495.
The spices, which include saffron, peppercorns, and ginger, were discovered in the silt of the boat in an excavation led by Brendan Foley, an archaeological scientist at Lund University, Reuters reported.
"The Baltic is strange - it's low oxygen, low temperature, low salinity, so many organic things are well preserved in the Baltic where they wouldn't be well preserved elsewhere in the world ocean system," Foley said, per Reuters. "But to find spices like this is quite extraordinary."
The spices accompanying King John on his trip to Sweden would have been a symbol of high status as saffron or cloves would have been imported from outside Europe and would have been very expensive.
"This is the only archaeological context where we've found saffron. So it's very unique, and it's very special," said Lund University researcher Mikael Larsson, who has been studying the findings.
King John traveled to Sweden on the ship as part of a mission to unify Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under his rule, according to ABC News.
The ship was docked, and the king was not on board when it caught fire and sank, but around 150 crewmen were killed.
The ship, which is one of the best preserved from the late medieval period, was rediscovered in the 1960s, and subsequent excavations have found various items, including a 660-pound wooden figurehead of a sea monster that was thought to ward off evil spirits.
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