Maritime archaeology, marine archaeology or underwater archaeology all describe the scientific discipline that studies people and societies based on archaeological remains under water or adjacent to water.

The discovery of the Vasa

Swedish maritime archaeology is a fairly young scientific discipline that is strongly linked to the discovery and salvage of the warship Vasa. Anders Franzén, who discovered the Vasa, played a role in the birth of modern maritime archaeology in Sweden even though he was employed as a naval technician at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

In conjunction with the survey of the Vasa in the dry docks of Beckholmen, maritime archaeology also started to take off. Carl-Olov Cederlund, who began his career in maritime archaeology at the time of the Vasa survey, can be said to have established maritime archaeology as a true academic and scientific discipline in Sweden. Cederlund also became Sweden’s first professor of maritime archaeology.

For many years, he had been active at the Maritime Museum and took part in several major surveys including shipwrecks at Jutholmen, outside Dalarö, and at Älvsnabben, east of Muskö.

Maritime archaeology today

Today, maritime archaeological surveys and research are conducted at several institutions across the country including the National Maritime and Transport History museums, Bohusläns Museum and the Kalmar County Museum. Södertörn University, with the help of several associated researchers, offers courses on the subject.

The survey of the warship Kronan (“The Crown”), headed by the Kalmar County Museum, is today the largest and longest running maritime archaeological survey in the country. The survey began back in 1980 and still takes place every summer.