Immerse yourself in virtual reality to visit the wreck of a 17th century ship

Immerse yourself in virtual reality to visit the wreck of a 17th century ship


A duo of archaeologists have developed a virtual reality experience that may interest more than one. It’s all about diving off Iceland to discover the wreck of the 17th-century merchant ship Melckmeyt.

Dutch merchant ship
Visiting wrecks at sea and virtual reality (VR) are only very rarely associated. For now, fans should be content with the Titanic VR app that appeared in 2017. It was created to save the memory of this famous ship that sank in 1912.

As the BBC explains in an article of October 16, 2019, the two researchers John McCarthy (Flinders University, Australia) and Kevin Martin (University of Iceland) are at the origin of a completely different VR experience (see end item). It is a reconstruction of the wreck of the Melckmeyt, a Dutch merchant ship sunk off the coast of Iceland in 1659. Discovered in 1992 near the island of Flatey, the wreck was the subject of a major expedition the following year.

A very detailed reconstruction
Sunken for 360 years, the wreck of the Melckmeyt is therefore honored in a VR experience lasting more than three minutes. It is possible to visit the wreck but also to get a glimpse of the boat before it sank. To develop this VR experience, the researchers returned to the site in 2016. After all this time, the bottom shell was largely in exceptional condition. These were ideal conditions for performing high resolution scanners to obtain a superb digital model of the wreckage.

According to archaeologists, this work has faithfully reproduced the diving experience, which maximizes the feeling of immersion. By the way, you should also know that it is possible to help researchers. Indeed, the reconstruction is so detailed that anyone could find something that has escaped the divers! In this case, it seems important to contact the archaeologists to inform them of a possible oversight.

According to historians, the Melckmeyt was what is called a flute, a common merchant ship in 17th-century Europe. Carrying a cargo of fish, it sank on October 16, 1659 following a severe storm. The wreck also testifies to a time when Iceland was controlled by Denmark, which monopolized trade there.