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Narodowe Muzeum Morskie w Gdańsku

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The museum complex on the Motława river

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The first wreck of a Vistula barge

04.09.2009 |

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The first wreck of a Vistula barge

Archaeological expedition headed by Waldemar Ossowski, Ph.D., of the Marine Archaeology Department of the CMM and organised to explore the wreck of an old river boat has successfully been concluded. The wreck lies in a pond dug in the old river bed of the Vistula. During the several days of the mission to Czersk nad Wisłą in the municipality of Góra Kalwaria, the wreck located a year ago became the first wreck of a Vistula barge to be exposed. The hull size – thirty metres in length and seven in width – indicates that this is the largest vessel type used on the Vistula till the end of 18th century, the flat-bottomed barge.

During the expedition, an archaeological survey was conducted, revealing the structural details of the vessel. The flat bottom and the remains of the sides are well preserved. Inside the hull, earthenware relics, nails and a horseshoe have been found. Tree-ring dating conducted so far indicates that the trees used to build the barge were felled in the late 15th century.

The exposure of a wreck of this size would not have been possible without the assistance of many organisations and individuals, who supported the enterprise. They include the Ja, Wisła foundation, the Mostostal Warszawa S.A., the president of the county of Piaseczno, the mayor and the councillors of Góra Kalwaria, the local government officer and the inhabitants of the village of Czersk. The CMM-conducted research was funded by the ministry of science and higher education as part of a research programme Changes in Barge Building in the Basins of Odra and Vistula.

After measurements were made, the wreck was submerged again. According to early estimates by CMM experts, conservation of the barge remains might cost 300 thousand PLN and take up to eight years. The local and regional authorities as well as the management of the Polish Archaeological Museum in Warsaw have expressed interest in cooperation leading to the raising, conservation and exposition of this unique object.


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