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Kalmar Nyckel : Lectures : 2013 – 375 Years On the Delaware: New Sweden Past and Present

2013 – 375 Years On the Delaware: New Sweden Past and Present

Edward Harris and Craig Lukezic, Finding Fort Christina -- Archaeology Matters!

The “search for Fort Christina” has begun, and two renowned archaeologists – Dr. Edward Harris of Bermuda and Craig Lukezic of Delaware, global and local experts on colonial forts and fortifications – will tell us about the site’s potential, its historic value, and the early returns on their preliminary findings

Fort Christina was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley and what would become the state of Delaware.  Founded by the Swedes in 1638, Fort Christina was located at “the Rocks,” today’s 7th Street Peninsula in Wilmington, about two hundred yards upstream from where the present-day Kalmar Nyckel makes her home.  Fort Christina is rightfully famous as the home of the first log-cabin structures ever built on American soil, a barracks and a warehouse constructed by Finnish soldiers who were part of the original Swedish expedition. Named in honor of Queen Christina, Sweden’s 12-year-old girl-Queen in 1638, Fort Christina State Park, dedicated and opened by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938 for the tercentenary of the first Swedish landing, commemorates the original fort.  No trace of the original fort has ever been found, and no serious archaeological exploration has ever been previously conducted.

Dr. Edward Harris is one of the world’s leading archaeologists and the Executive Director of the Bermuda Maritime Museum. A Member of the Order of the British Empire and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Dr. Harris is renowned in archaeology circles for developing the eponymous “Harris Matrix,” a new and improved method for taking into account stratigraphy during archaeological investigations. His landmark findings were published in 1979 as the Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy and have been adopted throughout the profession. Dr. Harris comes to us from Bermuda, where he is a frequent contributor to the annual Bermuda Journal of Archaeology and Maritime History and writes a history column for the local newspaper entitled “Heritage Matters.” Among other endeavors, Dr. Harris is recognized as Bermuda’s “fort expert,” where his interest in early modern fortifications has taken him to sites and excavations across the globe. It is this keen interest in colonial forts that brings him to Delaware and to the “search for Fort Christina.” Dr. Harris is excited about the possibilities for many reasons, but especially because it represents the first permanent site in what would become the first state of the United States of America.

Craig Lukezic has been a state archaeologist for Delaware’s Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since 2003. Mr. Lukezic has been leading archaeological studies of several colonial forts from the period when the Swedes and Dutch controlled the Delaware Valley, including a recent excavation at Fort Casimir in New Castle and preliminary investigations at Fort Christina State Park.  He, too, is excited about the “search for Fort Christina,” partly because of the site’s significance and because no serious investigation of the fort has ever been conducted.  Craig Lukezic presently serves as the president of the Archaeological Society of Delaware.  He has been instrumental in establishing the Early Colonial Symposium of the Delaware Valley and has contributed to the Lewes Maritime Archaeological Project and Avery’s Rest.  When not “getting dirty” and supervising projects for the state, Craig also teaches as an adjunct at Delaware State University.

Charles Gehring, Delaware’s First Corporate Takeover: The Dutch and the Swedes in a 17th-Century Battle for Business

Dr. Charles Gehring will discuss Delaware’s first corporate conflict, a “battle for business” between what amounted to two multinational corporate conglomerates, one under Swedish sovereignty, the other Dutch. Capitalism came in the first European ships, and Delaware was on the cutting edge of the modern world, a world that we’ve inherited for better and worse.

It seems fitting that Delaware – known today as the corporate capital of American and the registered home to over 60 percent of the world’s “Fortune 500” companies – should have been founded by two competing corporate entities, the Dutch West India Company and the New Sweden Company.  Two of the “Fortune 500” Companies of their day, they were joint stock enterprises chartered explicitly to engage in commerce across the Atlantic and to make money.  And like “hedge funds” and other vehicles for financial investment, they were high-risk ventures that could bring even higher rewards – or utter ruin.  Delaware in the first half of the 17th century was still something of a “new frontier,” a fertile land rich with possibilities, and as yet “undefined” place for entrepreneurs to stake their claims, a gateway to the American interior and to the future.

Dr. Charles Gehring, the Director of the New Netherland Research Center at the New Netherland Institute, Albany, NY, is a renowned scholar, historian, and translator of the Dutch Archives housed in the New York State Library. Dr. Gehring has been working tirelessly since 1974 on the collection of some 12,000 pages of documents.  For over 38 years now, scholars and students have looked to Dr. Gehring when investigating the early history of New York and the larger Dutch colony of New Netherland.  In 2004, Dr. Gehring and his work received international acclaim thanks to the New York Times bestselling book by Russell Shorto, entitled The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America, credit that was long overdue and richly deserved. 

A long-time supporter of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation who attended the launch of the ship in 1997, Charles Gehring has been a wise and generous friend.  We are honored to be able to present Dr. Gehring to a greater Delaware Valley audience during this 375th anniversary year.

Lars Einarsson, Royal Ship Kronan: The Archaeology and Development of Swedish Naval Power in the 17th Century

Hailing from the height of Sweden’s 17th-Century Baltic Empire, the sunken Royal Warship Kronan (translates to Crown) offers an archaeological treasure.  Discovered in 1980, below the clear waters of the Baltic 4 miles off the south-east coast of Öland, Sweden, the Kronan was the largest and most powerful warship of her day.  The famous Kronan had been lost during the Battle of Öland on June 1, 1676, heeling over in heavy weather before

blowing up and sinking while fighting a combined Danish-Dutch battle fleet.  Twice as large as the Vasa, she sank fully-equipped for battle, carrying a crew of 840 and 126 bronze cannons mounted on three decks.  This was a major loss for Sweden during the Scanian War; as the Kronan’s crew represented close to 10% of the active manpower available to the navy at the time.

Although tragic and controversial at the time, the wreck of the Kronan reveals a 17th -Century community in miniature and a snapshot of Sweden during her period as a maritime empire – a “Great Power” period that extends to our original Kalmar Nyckel and the colony of New Sweden.  The remains of the ill-fated Kronan includes over 25,000 separate artifacts – everything from unique silver and copper coins, plates and jugs, musical instruments, navigational equipment, seamen’s chests and chess pieces, clay pipes, rings and jewelry, uniforms, stockings, shoes, and the largest gold treasure-trove ever found in Sweden.

Here to tell us about this incredible story is the Head Underwater Archaeologist and the Director of the Kronan Project at the Kalmar Läns Museum, Lars Einarsson.  As one of the world’s top underwater divers and marine archaeologists, Einarsson has been chiefly responsible for excavating, recovering, and preserving theKronan wreck site and all the thousands of artifacts.   His work, vision, and publications, both scholarly and for the general public, have made the Kronan one of the most important archaeological finds in the world.

Lars Einarsson will also be a participant of the official delegation representing the City of Kalmar on a visit to Wilmington in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilmington-Kalmar Sister Cities’ Program.  The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is honored to participate in this international celebration, one that helps to remind our community of our close and ongoing link to Sweden – a connection that includes our Kalmar Nyckel’s original namesake city.

Kalmar Nyckel : Lectures : 2013 – 375 Years On the Delaware: New Sweden Past and Present

Did you know: That Peter Minuit led the expedition that founded the New Sweden colony?

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