Ancient shipwreck's stone cargo linked to Apollo temple

Underwater archaeology


By Helen Fields


For a few days back in July 2007, it was hard for archaeologist Deborah Carlson to get any work done at her site off the Aegean coast of western Turkey.

She was leading an underwater excavation of a 2,000-year-old shipwreck, but the Turkish members of her crew had taken time off to vote in national elections. So things were quiet at her camp on an isolated cape called Kızılburun.

The shipwrecks' main cargo was 50 tons of marble—elements of a huge column sent on an ill-fated journey to a temple, Carlson thought.

But she didn't know which temple, so she used all her days off to drive around the area looking at possibilities.

There were a lot—western Turkey, once part of ancient Greece and later in the Roman Empire, is home to sites like Ephesus and Troy.

But Carlson had narrowed down her choices to a list of nearby temples that were in use in the first century BC—the likely date of the shipwrecks' column.

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Turkey ancient shipwreck stone cargo Apollo temple Aegean coast Deborah Carlson