Ships at War

An Archaeological and Historical Study of Early Modern Maritime Battlefields in the Baltic

Project manager

Rönnby, Johan - Professor

Stadin, Kekke - Professor emeritus/emerita


The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Project type



The project is a cooperation between the disciplines of archaeology and history and a part of the aim to formulate joint project within “Historical Studies” at Södertörn University. The professors Kekke Stadin (history) and Johan Rönnby (maritime archaeology) will share the responsibility for leading the project. The project also involves two planned postdoktors, Ingvar Sjöblom, Försvarshögkolan (history) and Niklas Eriksson, Södertörn University (archaeology)and a new PhD student (history) at Historical studies. The investigation of the wrecks mention below is an archaeological work involving several different institutions and companies with MARIS at Södertörn as coordinator of the research. The following project is meant as the academic platform for this. The fieldwork, exhibition and planned international tv-production which also is planned in coonection to this are financed from other sources. Research perspective In the summer of 2011 two new spectacular finds of shipwrecks was found in the central Baltic Sea. After years of searching the well-preserved remains of both Mars (1564) and Svärdet (1676) was found. Both were large royal naval ships which after tough and lengthy battles went down. The new findings, together with previously known wrecks in the Baltic Sea, such as Kraveln (1525), Vasa (1628) and Kronan (1676) gives an opportunity for new insight into the formative period of Sweden's history as a strong state and a Baltic Empire. The struggle for military and economic control of the Baltic and areas and towns around the inland sea was an important part of this. The shipwrecks also sheds further light on the way this process played out and in doing so, reveal not only the ship as a principal tool of European state building and, but more generally as both manifestation and agent of social change. The ongoing documentation of the two newly found wrecks also emphasizes the violent course and the chaotic environment on board during the battles. The sites with all their guns and the ships themselves are well preserved maritime battlefield. This opens up potential issues related to practical solutions in naval battles, but also symbolic, mental and psychological aspects associated with warfare in general and human behavior in such situations and environments. In the end we also wants to dress general questions about the war and its sociology and psychology.

Niklas Eriksson, Södertörn University
Patrik Höglund, Södertörn University

Research area / geographic area

Archaeology History MARIS Historical Studies History Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe Baltic Europe

Project time

2013 — 2017


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