- On 18/04/2008
- In Ancien Maritime History
From Turkish Press
The coasts of Anatolia are sprinkled with ancient cities whose harbours bustled with ships engaged in the thriving sea trade of the Aegean and Mediterranean.
But not every ship made it safely to harbour.
Many were wrecked in storms and sank with their cargoes to the seabed, and the remains of these have lain hidden on the seabed for long centuries.
Wrecks of both merchant and warships each have their historical tale to relate, and are among the underwater sights that fascinate divers today. No other region of the world is so rich in sunken history as the seas around Turkey.
The world's oldest known wreck was discovered at Uluburun near Kas, and after years of work was lifted to the surface and placed on exhibit.
Nautical archaeology began in Turkey, and today is recognised as a distinct branch of archaeology throughout the world.
The first scientific excavation carried out entirely underwater took place at in 1960. This was followed by excavations of the Uluburun, Roman, Yassiada Eastern Roman, Ottoman, Bozburun and Pabuçburnu wrecks, all of which passed into archaeological literature and were followed with interest all over the world.
The timbers of wrecked ships are destroyed within a few years by fireworms, but their cargoes often resist erosion by the sea water for thousands of years. Commodities of many kinds were transported in amphoras, pottery jars with pointed bases and two handles.
Such jars are known to have first been used in the city of Troy in 3000 BC.
The tapering pointed shape enabled them to be stacked safely in ships' holds and kept upright so that their contents did not spill.
As well as wine and olive oil, these jars were used for grain, salted fish and many other dry commodities.
Despite the passage of thousands of years, most of these amphoras remain undamaged at the bottom of the sea.