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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Archaeology office lets 7,000-year-old boats rot away

Archaeology office lets 7,000-year-old boats rot away

Published: 12 Mar 09 11:54 CET

A pair of stone-age boats, thought to be the oldest in Europe, have
been allowed to rot in a partially collapsed shed while the northern
German regional archaeology authorities stood by broke and helpless,
it emerged this week.

The two 7,000-year-old wooden boats and a third one thought to be
around 6,000 years old, were hailed as a sensation when they were
found during construction work on the Baltic coast near Stralsund in
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern seven years ago.

But now they are effectively ruined, after a lack of funds resulted in
them being stored inappropriately. “It is a loss for Germany if not
for the whole world,” said Andreas GrĂ¼ger, director of the Stralsund
historical museum.

The boats had been entrusted to the Authorities for Culture and
Preservation of Ancient Monuments in Schwerin for restoration and
conservation. But Michael Bednorz, head of the State Office admitted
that financial difficulties meant that they were kept in a shed
instead of an appropriate space.

“The log boats are only an example for our problems,” he said.

“They are a drastic illustration of what happens when the regional
authorities cannot fulfil their obligations.”

Although much damage was inflicted during the first two years of
storage, they were then further damaged when the shed they were stored
in partially collapsed in 2004. Yet still they were not moved to

The state office’s storage facilities have less than a good reputation
– mice have chewed up ancient documents in the main archive mice while
a water leakage destroyed precious artefacts in another depot.

The remains of the boats have now been sent to the University of
Applied Sciences in Berlin where students are planning to investigate
the extent of the damage and draw up a plan to save at least


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