efe-epaAmersfoort (Netherlands)

Parts of the oldest shipwreck ever to have been discovered in Dutch waters were presented in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

The copper and wooden parts were discovered at the start of the year during the recovery of shipping containers that had fallen into the North Sea from a cargo ship on New Year’s Eve, the Dutch government said in a statement.

After analyzing the materials, archaeologists believe the ship would have been built in the Netherlands around the year 1540.

“This is the oldest find of a seafaring ship in Dutch waters ever,” the government said of the discovery in a statement.

The copper sheets and wooden beams were found at the start of the year as part of an operation to salvage containers that went overboard in rough sailing conditions.

Archaeologists were able to date the wreck by examining the wood, which they determined came from trees that were felled in 1536.

The metal sheets, with stamps tying them to the Fuggers, a German family that was in the copper business, were found to be from around the same period.

Investigators believe the 16th-century ship would have been 30 meters long (98 feet) and had been in the process of transporting copper plates, according to the government statement.

The government qualified the copper as “of very high cultural and archaeological value.”

The rusty sheets were now tinged green after having spent centuries under the sea, a phenomenon that occurs when the copper is exposed to the elements transforming the upper layers of the originally orange-hued metal into a pale green.

The Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency would now continue investigations into the shipwreck.

Some 270 shipping containers fell off the MSC Zoe at the end of last year after the vessel was hit by adverse weather conditions on its way to the German port of Bremerhaven.

Among the containers were some that contained toxic chemicals.

“This find can rightfully be called a lucky accident,” said Dutch minister of culture, Ingid van Engelshoven, who was there for the unveiling in the central Dutch city of Amersfoort.

“This spectacular discovery was made while salvaging the containers,” she added.

sh/ch