Schleswig, Germany
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Research Project Proposal 2024

Project: “Early modern strandings and shipwrecks in Schleswig-Holstein’s intertidal zone: Endangered archaeological maritime heritage in the light of coastal erosion and sea level rise”

Original title in German: “Frühneuzeitliche Strandungen und Schiffswracks in Schleswig-Holsteins Tidenzone: Bedrohte Zeugnisse des archäologischen maritimen Kulturerbes im Spiegel von Küstenerosion und Meeresspiegelanstieg”


The exponential increase of early modern wreck finds in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea in recent years is the reason for this archaeological-historical research proposal by the State Archaeology Department of Schleswig-Holstein and the department of regional history at the University of Kiel, including geomorphological expertise from the Institute of Oceanography at the University of Hamburg. The maritime cultural heritage in the Wadden Sea is threatened by tidal currents, storms and tidal erosion, which is amplified by the global sea level rise as a consequence of climate change. Since rescue archaeology cannot take place in the Wadden Sea in accordance to the polluter-pays principle, a systematic study of the maritime cultural heritage remains a desideratum.

The project focuses on wreck finds, which construction and findings allow inferences on shipbuilding traditions, origin and trade routes and shed light on circumstances of the ship-losses. If possible, historical sources should shed light on the fate of the stranded vessels and their crews as well as on scrapping and looting. Ideally, historical stranding reports of individual shipwrecks can be assigned in the Braudelian sense of a “histoire événementielle”. Furthermore, long-term geomorphological changes of the dynamic Wadden Sea coast and the maritime infrastructure will be investigated in the sense of a “longue durée” in order to identify superordinate or cyclical development trends. This involves using satellite remote sensing data to identify coastal areas that are particularly affected by erosion and where an increased potential for wreck finds and other cultural traces can be expected in the future.

The interdisciplinary and international research project, involving cooperation partners from the three Wadden Sea littoral states, will draw a holistic picture of the regional and global maritime past through a snapshot in time of wrecks that are sporadically exposed by erosion. The project proposal will be submitted in due course at the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Project partners

  • State Archaeology Department of Schleswig-Holstein (ALSH): Dr. Ulf Ickerodt, Dr. Daniel Zwick
  • University of Kiel, Department for Regional History (CAU): Prof. Dr. Oliver Auge
  • University of Hamburg, Institute of Oceanography (IfM): Dr. Martin Gade

Associated cooperation partners

This list is being currently compiled and will be updated with the reception of support letters from inland and abroad.

Relevant literature:

Auge 2021: O. Auge, Schleswig-Holstein und die Welt. Globale Bezüge einer Regionalgeschichte (Kiel/Hamburg 2021).

Englert 1997: A. Englert, Das neuzeitliche Wrack aus dem Hedwigenkoog, Kr. Dithmarschen. Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie aus dem Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität Kiel 41, Bonn.

Gade et al. 2017: M. Gade, J. Kohlus, C. Kost, 2017 SAR Imaging of Archaeological Sites on Intertidal Flats in the German Wadden Sea. Geosciences 7(4): 105-115.

Ickerodt et al. 2017: U. Ickerodt, S. Klooß, M. Maluck, E. Siegloff, A. Tummuscheit, J. Fischer,    Archäologische Denkmalpflege im Nordfriesischen Wattenmeer. In: Natur- und Landeskunde, Zeitschrift für Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg und Mecklenburg 11–12 (124): 205-214.

Kühn 1998: H. J. Kühn, Der friesische Frachtsegler im Husumer Schiffahrtsmuseum. Beiträge zur Husumer Stadtgeschichte 6: 58–63.

Kühn 1998: H. J. Kühn, Gestrandet bei Uelvesbüll. Wrackarchäologie in Nordfriesland (Husum 1999).

Meier 2022: D. Meier, Die Nordseeküste Schleswig-Holsteins – Ein historischer Atlas. Heide.

Nissen 1969: N. R. Nissen, Das Wrack im Hedwigenkoog. In: Dithmarschen 1969: 284–287.

Wilken et al. 2022: D. Wilken, D. Zwick, B. S. Majchczack, R. Blankenfeldt, E. Erkul, S. Fischer, D. Bienen-Scholt, Multi-Coil FD-EMI in Tidal Flat Areas: Prospection and Ground Truthing at a 17th Century Wooden Ship Wreckage. Remote Sensing 14 (2022), 489.

Wilken et al. 2023: D. Wilken, F. Jürgens, D. Bienen-Scholt, B. S. Majchczack, R. Blankenfeldt, Barge or tjalk? A wreck investigation in the tidal flat of North Frisia. In: Advances in on- and Offshore Archaeological Prospection: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Archaeological Prospection. Universitätsverlag Kiel | Kiel University Publishing, Kiel, pp. 77–80.

Zwick 2021: D. Zwick, Archäologie in der Tidenzone – Die neuen Wrackfunde aus dem Nordfriesischen Wattenmeer. In: F. Huber (ed.), Zeitreisen unter Wasser. Spektakuläre Entdeckungen zwischen Ostsee und Bodensee. Darmstadt 2021, 130-143.

Zwick 2021: D. Zwick, A late 17th-century ‘Double Dutch’ construction in the North Frisian Wadden Sea: The case of the Hörnum Odde wreck on the Island of Sylt, Germany, in: G. Boetto, P. Pomey, P. Poveda (ed.): Open Sea … Closed Sea. Local and inter-regional traditions in shipbuilding (Archaeonautica, 21; Proceedings of the 15th International Symposium on Boat & Ship Archaeology, Marseille 22-27 October 2018), Paris 2021, 203-209.

Zwick 2022: D. Zwick, Im Mahlstrom der Geschichte: Schiffswracks, Wrackteile und Strandgut im Nordfriesischen Wattenmeer. In: Skyllis 22, 2022, 174-186.

Zwick 2022: D. Zwick, Schiffswracks im schleswig-holsteinischen Wattenmeer: Zum Stand der aktuellen Forschung. In: Arkæologi i Slesvig / Archäologie in Schleswig 19, 2022, 207-222.

Zwick 2022: D. Zwick, Die Wracklandschaft vom Süderoogsand. In: Archäologische Nachrichten aus Schleswig-Holstein 28, 2022, 98-107.

Zwick 2023: D. Zwick, Bericht zu einer internationalen Konferenz zu historischen Schiffswracks in der Tidenzone. In: Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte 2023, 29-39.

Zwick (im Erscheinen): D. Zwick, The Management of Intertidal Shipwrecks in Germany. In: J. E. Jones, C. H. Mires, D. Zwick (eds.), The Intertidal Shipwreck: Management of a Historic Resource in an Unmanageable Environment. Gainesville: University Press Florida.