Ancient Cheese Recovered from Baltic Shipwreck
A dive team looking at the wreck of a Swedish warship from the 1600s has found an unusual treasure – a sealed tin container of cheese, aged for over three centuries.
The tin was well-buried in sediment, slowing corrosion. Dive leader Lars Einarsson told AFP that the semi-firm, Roquefort-like dairy product "smells of life,” but he added that he was not inclined to taste it. The product has been sent to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences for evaluation.
The wrecked warship, named the Kronan, was one of the largest seagoing vessels in the world at the time of her construction. She capsized and went down in 1676 off southeastern Sweden during a battle, and her location was lost until 1980. The wreck is not intact – an explosion at the time of sinking blew it to pieces – and while the site has been explored extensively, with tens of thousands of objects recovered, there is little of the ship herself to raise for restoration.
The cheese is not the only recent instance of a well-preserved food product recovered from the cold waters of the Baltic. In 2010, diver Christian Ekström found a schooner off the Åland Islands loaded with champagne from the 1840s, plus six bottles of beer – the oldest beer known. (Ekström did taste-test the contents after the dive.) A recreation of one of the brews from the find is now in commercial production, available in Sweden as Historic Beer 1843.