A 300-year-old skull with brain tissue still inside has been found in a ship wrecked off the coast of Sweden, reported The Local paper today.
The skull was found inside the remains of the Kronan, a Swedish royal ship that sank in 1676, during the time of naval battling between the allied Danish-Dutch fleet and the Swedes.
The Kalmar Läns Museum website states that only 40 men survived when the ship went down, while 800 other crew members died in the cold waters of the Baltic. The vessel was located first by scientists in 1980.
According to marine archeologist Lars Einarsson of the Kalmar Läns Museum, quoted in the Local, the cranium was found in a location of the wreck that had formed an "air-free pocket." More study of the skull and its contents will be carried out at Stockholm University.
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The wreck of the Kronan has made the news before: in 2008, Australia's Courier-Mail described the remarkable archeological treasure-trove it contained, which is on display in Kalmar, one of Sweden's oldest cities.
According to Einarsson, the Kronan sank when it turned with too much sail to face its Danish-Dutch enemies. The hefty ship soon fell flat on its side, than sank. Einarsson told the Courier-Mail that the Kronan encapsulated the Swedish society of the time, with richer sailors living higher in the decks, and poorer, less important sailors residing below-decks.
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The museum reports that 20,000 objects have been recovered from the wreck, which lies 27 meters below the sea.
The ship was heavily embellished, Einarsson told the Courier-Mail, as it would have rarely left port: embellishment "was a way to demonstrate and secure the absolute power of the kings," he said.