The 16th-century Elephant shipwreck reveals new insights about the development of warships.
Warfare capability research
The ongoing research on warfare capability in the Swedish navy during 1450–1850 includes a study of the war supply during 1554–1564. And a case study of a warship named Elephant is central to this research.
The Elephant was a Swedish ship built between 1554-58 in Stockholm. The ship was launched in Stockholm around 1560, and at a length of roughly 50 metres it was the kingdom’s largest warship.
An interdisciplinary study
The study is conducted from an interdisciplinary life-history perspective. Areas such as shipbuilding, equipment, armament, manning, and provisions are included and compared with other wreckages and artefacts. And results from previous research and reviews of source material are used in perspective to digital measurements, photogrammetry and other marine archaeological data.
The research is a sub-project of the larger Central bank-financed project named The Forgotten Navy.
One of the first warships
This new review of source material shows that many results will, with great certainty, form the basis of a completely new interpretation of the Elephant.
Also, findings will be important in creating knowledge about the development of military build-up and warfare in the Baltic Sea region.
It was found, for instance, that the Elephant was one of the first warships in the Swedish navy with two continuous battery decks with cannon ports.
New marine archaeological survey
It is essential to secure as much data as possible for further research. A new marine archaeological survey will be vital to create a digital mapping of the wreck and provide new source material.
Therefore maritime historian and researcher Ingvar Sjöblom, at the Stockholm University and the Swedish National Defense College, was granted support by Voice of the Ocean for a new study of The Elephant.
The results will contribute to an upcoming exhibition at the Västerviks museum and a forthcoming book about the navy’s war supply. Furthermore, the work forms the basis for future studies and another book that focuses on the change in warfare capability due to the introduction of fortress artillery on ships.
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