Ship boat

A 400-year-old ship’s figurehead from the 80-year-old war captured by Dutch shrimp!

An exceptionally well-preserved ship’s figurehead, in the form of a wooden statue, has been ‘caught’ by a shrimp boat crew off the island of Texel in the Dutch Wadden Islands. This example of a super rare ship’s figurehead was in mint condition and adorned with a special headdress, called the Phrygian cap, which was a strong reference to emancipation from slavery, and therefore freedom and freedom. ‘independence.

Apparently submerged since the 17th century, the ship’s figurehead is believed to have come from a warship that sank during the Dutch Eighty Years’ War with the Spanish from 1566/8 to 1648 AD. The discovery was enthusiastically shared by a crew member on Twitterin which he also asked for more information about his origins and history.

The discovery of the rare figurehead of the “perfect” ship

The crew of the shrimper Wieringer 22 found the ship’s exceptional figurehead in their fishing nets, off the Dutch Wadden Islands (or Frisian Islands). Crafted from solid oak, the statue’s mighty head and face have thankfully been buried so deep in the seabed that they have completely escaped spoilage or degradation by earthworms.

The find was named by the crew members “Barry”. It was called a “very special find” by Michiel Bartels, a city archaeologist in the area, who “dated” the statue to the Eighty Years’ War.

The seafloor sediments acted as an almost perfect preservation capsule for the ship’s figurehead, preventing marine organisms from feeding on the timber and general damage caused by prolonged submersion. On the advice of marine archaeologists, the head was placed by the crew in an eel pan filled with seawater, preventing the wood from drying out and deteriorating, the Danish daily reports. Current Leeuwarder .

Front and side view of the well-preserved wooden ship’s figurehead fished out of the sea by the shrimp crew off the coast of the island Texel in the Dutch Wadden Islands on August 1, 2022 .( Victor Ayal )

Barry, the ship’s figurehead, and his “Liberty Slave” cap

Referring to the Phrygian cap that was so evident on the head of the statue, Bartels added: “This hat symbolizes freedom and independence. The Phrygians were enslaved by the Romans. The slaves were shaved. Once freed from slavery, [Phrygians] wore a cap to hide their baldness and signify their freedom.

In fact, European and colonial cultures have used red Phrygian caps to symbolize freedom for centuries. During the French and American revolutions, they will become symbols of allegiance to the cause, and several peoples of Eastern Europe, Anatolia and the Balkans adopt the symbol of the Phrygians.

The original liberty cap was adopted by the emancipated slaves of Rome and called the “pileus”, attributed to Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty. The oldest representation of this cap was founded in Persepolis in Iran, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), when the liberated Persians, Medes and Scythians all adopted the cap of freedom .

All the religious reasons for the Eighty Years’ War

The Dutch Eighty Years’ War was an armed conflict that began in Habsburg, Netherlands in the 1560s between groups of rebels and the Spanish government that then ruled Holland. They clashed over the Reformation, taxation and extreme inequality in society that caused growing tensions between rich and poor.

The Spaniards ruled in the far north of the Netherlands through royal marriages, political arrangements, and docile Dutch attitudes. It was a socio-cultural conquest of the Netherlands that did not require any invasion.

The Netherlands was ruled by the Spanish Catholic King Philip II, son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (reigned 1519-1556). King Philip II continued and expanded his father’s anti-Protestant policies. Charles V was behind the introduction of the Inquisition into the Netherlands, which caused protests among the Dutch.

Ultimately, it was King Philip II’s decision to counter the protests of the Reformation by having all his subjects swear allegiance to the Catholic Church that led to war on land and seas between the two sides. .

The Eighty Years’ War led to the independence of the Netherlands in 1581 and the formation of the Dutch Republic.

Top image: The rare and exceptionally preserved Dutch wooden ship’s figurehead found off the island of Texel in the Wadden Islands in early August 2022. Source: Victor Ayal

By Sahir Pandey