Raised Medieval ship
Engineers raise an intact ship from Ijssel River in the Netherlands as spectators applaudCourtesy: Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands

An extremely well-preserved 600-year-old wooden ship has been resurrected intact from the cold bottom of a Dutch river in what one archaeologist has calls a "fantastic achievement."

The raising was a four-year labour of love after the 65-foot (20m), 55-ton ship was discovered in 2012 during efforts to widen the Ijssel River, an offshoot of the Rhine River, near Kampen. The medieval vessel was used for international trade voyages.

Raising the vessel involved building a platform for a crane and carefully suctioning debris from the ship's frame. Then it was trussed up in a basket of tethers and joists and slowly hoisted by the crane.

As the ship finally rose from the depths shedding gushes of water, it was met with wild applause from some 1,000 people who had come to watch while thousands more followed the operation via a livestream online.

Although much had been stripped off the vessel, researchers did find a brick oven and glazed tiles in the galley.

A barge and a small boat from the same period also were found on the riverbed. Researchers believe all the craft were deliberately sunk to help divert the flow of the river and improve sea traffic.

The ship sailed at a time when the Hanseatic League, a group of guilds that fostered trade across Europe, dominated the seas, reports Live Science.

"This was an incredibly involved operation and was almost as impressive as the cog [ship] itself. The raising ... was complex, in the middle of the river, near the navigation channel. Three different specializations had to work together here: an archaeological research team, divers and storage specialists," said Ben Broens of the Rijkswaterstaat, a water management bureau in the Dutch government which helped oversee the salvage operation.

The ship will be transported to a local preservation facility where it may take as long as three years to dry out. After researchers study it the vessel will be moved to a museum.