Researchers Discover Women Were Aboard The Vasa


Constructed in Sweden, the Vasa was launched on August 10, 1628, but unfortunately, it didn't sail very far before it capsized due to strong winds, taking on water through its open gun ports within a mile of its departure. 

Vasa Sweden War Ship
Vasa Courtesy of Canva

However, the hull of the Vasa has been remarkably preserved thanks to the use of the preservative agent, polyethylene glycol, since its excavation from the seafloor in 1961. This exceptional preservation has allowed researchers to access valuable information that would have otherwise been lost. Now, with the aid of DNA testing, researchers are gaining even more insight into the identities of those who perished when the Vasa sank.

By utilizing bones retrieved from the vessel, as well as those exhumed from their burial sites, the Vasa research team has successfully employed nuclear DNA testing to uncover evidence that women were present on the ship. Considering the rarity of women being aboard a ship at sea during the year 1628, this discovery is quite significant. Beginning with one woman in particular, the researchers are gradually uncovering more information about why she, as well as other women, were aboard the Vasa.

The research project on the Vasa and its enigmas is spearheaded by Fred Hocker, who serves as the director of the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. According to Hocker, the spine of the woman found on the ship appeared to exhibit signs of having undergone arduous physical labor. Although it is unclear why the woman, known only as G., was on board the Vasa, researchers have suggested that she may have been the wife of a sailor or possibly disguised herself as a man. Despite this lingering uncertainty, the researchers are committed to conducting further investigations to uncover the complete story of who was present on the Vasa.

For the full story visit The New York Times.

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