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Special exhibition: The Nydam Boat – sunk – discovered – exploreded

From 1859, teacher and archaeologist Conrad Engelhardt excavated the Nydam Bog about 25 km north of Flensburg. Then four years later the sensation: in August 1863 Engelhardt discovers a huge oak boat, has it recovered, and achieves success in the preservation of the wooden parts and the reconstruction. The discovery of this unique exhibit in its preserved state 150 years ago is an occasion for the Archäologisches Landesmuseum and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (ZBSA) to present the history of the Nydam Boat as extensively as never before in the setting of a special exhibition which started on 14 April 2013.

Nydam boat

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No other warship from ancient German times is so well preserved. For decades, its imposing overall impression has made the Nydam Boat one of the highlights of the exhibits on Schleswig’s Museum Island. Because it has at the same time been an object of dispute between German and Danish interests since its discovery, it is worth looking into the history of the boat 150 years after its location.

From 1859, teacher and archaeologist Conrad Engelhardt excavated the Nydam Bog about 25 km north of Flensburg. Then four years later the sensation: in August 1863 Engelhardt discovers a huge oak boat, has it recovered, and within a few months achieves success in the preservation of the wooden parts and the reconstruction. For the first time in the history of north European archaeology it was possible to examine a prehistoric ship suitable for the open sea. Then, however, the German-Danish war breaks out and a lengthy odyssey begins for the Nydam Boat, until it finally finds its present place on the Schleswig Museum Island in the spring of 1947.
In the new special exhibition "The Nydam Boat/Nydambåden – sunk – discovered – researched", further original pieces of marine equipment, for example an oar belonging to the ship and already found in 1859/62, are presented alongside the Nydam Boat. In addition, visitors learn details of the find place, a former lake and sacrificial site where two more ships and numerous objects such as weapons and jewellery were sacrificed next to the Nydam Boat. A selection of these sacrificial offerings can be seen at the exhibition. The significance of the Nydam Boat in the history of north European shipbuilding is illuminated and the personality Conrad Engelhardt, discoverer of this unique find, is presented. The exhibition can be experienced completely in German or Danish. This also applies to a newly produced Nydam Boat audio commentary, whose 18 stages appear in the Gottorf audio guide. Such a magnificent rowing boat in action is presented at the end of the exhibition tour, in the cinema room, in the film commissioned by NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) "Ein Schiff für die Götter" ('A Ship for the Gods') by Wilfried Hauke.
The project received financial support from, among others, the Nord-Ostsee Sparkasse and the savings banks in Schleswig-Holstein. The Archäologisches Landesmuseum’s media partner is NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DEUTSCHLAND. The May edition of the magazine has devoted a major report to the famous rowing boat from ancient German times.

Nydam GIS

Finds digitalized in GIS around both the boats which were found in the Nydam Bog. Clearly to be seen is the vast number of find objects, mainly weapons and boat parts. Imaging: GIS Department ZBSA.

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