A 350 year old wooden sculpture depicting a trading merchant in Dutch fashions that were typical for that country's golden age of trade with Sweden and Baltic countries has been salvaged from the Ghost Ship, which lies north of Fårö island, east of Sweden, and at a depth of 425 feet (130 meters).

The recently resurfaced wooden carving suggests that the vessel is a trading ship that was build in Holland and dates to late in the 1600's, according to Södertörn University and the Marine Archaeological Center, who head the underwater surveying project. With assistance from Dutch restorers, the object has been moved to the Vasa ship museum in Stockholm, and eventually, it will be returned to the Netherlands' national antiquities department.

The Ghost Ship was discovered in 2003 while searching for a missing Swedish DC3 aircraft that was lost under mysterious circumstances early during the Cold War. The intention of the expedition is to identify the ship wreckage in detail, both externally and internally, and the challenge before them seems formidable considering that the scientists have not yet ascertained the Ghost Ship's actual name or any other identifying markings.

Using three dimensional multi beam sonar, the team of marine archaeologists are digitally reconstructing the vessel in detail. John Rönnby, professor of marine archeology at Södertörn College, described how the statue was salvaged using high tech robots from on board the vessel IceBeam.

"It is exciting and almost magical to see inside the ship now with the help of robots," related Rönnby. He added that the statue, retrieved from the stern of the vessel, is wearing a stylish care and has a wide brimmed hat with feather adornments.

According to Rönnby, they have entered the ship's kitchen, the carpenter's quarters and also believe to have seen a crew member's skull. The Baltic Sea waters are low in salt content and therefore preserve wood, bone and submersed artifacts much better than other oceans.

A documentary film about the expedition will aire on the National Geographic channel in 124 countries in 2011.

Source: Södertörns högskola

More photos: Hela Gotland.se (Swedish only): http://www.helagotland.se/nyheter/artikel.aspx?articleid=6008322