One of the world’s richest plate sets from the Eastern Roman Empire has been discovered off the coast of the southern province of Antalya’s Adrasan district.
“We were not hopeful of finding anything considerable,” said Selçuk University Archaeology Department academic Hakan Öniz. “Just then, we found a solid, very beautiful plate with its own colors. It made us very happy. We were amazed by the designs on it.
As we found the others, we were surprised by the motifs on each plate. There are fish and flower motifs unique to the era. The workmanship was very good. All of them were 800-900 years old.”
Among the most striking plates in the set are unique ones that are in the same design and color but in different sizes.
The ship that was carrying the plates is thought to have sunk after hitting a rock sometime in the 12th century. The Byzantine Empire underwater excavations started in 2014 in collaboration with Dokuz Eylül University, Selçuk University and the Antalya Museum.
The finds are being cleaned of salt at the Antalya Museum Directorate’s laboratory. When the work is done, the plates will be displayed at the Antalya Museum. Öniz said the plates off Adrasan were scattered over an area of 15 to 20 meters.
“The ship was loaded with plates from two different plate factories. We don’t know where these factories are. I say two different factories because there are two different techniques used on the plates. We see that the plate set existed 900 years ago, too, and that women took care of their sets,” he said.
He said they had found the plates underwater on top of each other. Most of them were broken, while some had been taken by people, he added. There are a number of other plates along the coasts of Antalya and Mersin, but many are too deep to retrieve, he said.