Treasure In Icelandic Waters? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Treasure In Icelandic Waters?

Published March 22, 2012

The exploration of a sunken ship off the coast of Iceland will carry on this spring, in a search that is one of the first of its kind in the country.
The ship in question, Vísir reports, is the Phönix, a postal ship which ended up in terrible weather and sunk to the bottom of the sea near Löngufjörur at Snæfellsnes in 1881. No ordinary postal ship by any means, it is said to have carried on board some of the possessions of famed Icelander Jón Sigurðsson and his wife Ingibjörg, the gravestone of the poet Kristján Jónsson, and other personal effects.
Initial research was done last year, but the undersea excavation will be formally initiated this spring. This excavation will be among the first of its kind in Iceland. The initial research indicated that the Phönix was apparently loaded with cargo, so there may even be some surprises in store.
Ragnar Edvardsson, an archeologist in the research department of the University of Iceland in the Westfjords, is heading the research with Arnar Þór Egilsson. While the ship is not very far beneath the surface – about ten metres – the excavation will give archeologists and divers alike the training and experience to conduct similar excavations in the future.
Ragnar said that he has on record 22 sunken ships around the coast of Iceland, but most of them are too deep to excavate by diving. However, about four to six ships are close enough to the surface to make dive excavations possible. Some of these ships date back to the 15th century.


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