Best preserved shipwreck found at Istanbul’s Yenikapi
By Sevgi Korkut - Todays Zaman
In the course of the ongoing archeological excavations at the Yenikapı Marmaray construction site, the world’s best preserved shipwreck, a merchant vessel whose contents and wooden parts are in exceptionally good condition, was revealed.
The archaeologists believe that the ship is from the fourth or fifth century and that it sank in a storm. Surprisingly, most of the amphorae on the ship are in perfect condition.
The archeological excavation started in 2004 at the Yenikapı Marmaray construction site and reaches 8,500 years into the history of İstanbul. Skeletons, chapel remains, water wells and footprints, in addition to 35 shipwrecks, have been uncovered by archeologists so far.
A 15 to 16-meter-long, six-meter-wide shipwreck loaded with dozens of amphorae found last May brings new historical data to life.
The amphorae are shaped and colored differently than previously found examples. It is assumed that the ship was completely buried in mud and that this oxygen-free atmosphere protected the vessel and its contents from breaking down or being damaged.
The ship was loaded with pickled fry, while almonds, walnuts, hazels, muskmelon seeds, olives, peaches and pine cones found on the shipwreck were also in good condition.
Archeologist Songül Çoban says they need two more months to completely uncover the shipwreck, which was found four-five meters below sea level, adding that they were working eight hours a day and that such a detailed excavation was demanding.
The shipwreck at Yenikapı is the only sample in near-perfect condition in terms of both wooden parts of the ship and its cargo in the world. When the shipwreck was first discovered, the mud above it was cleared away and the damaged top layer of amphorae was removed piece by piece, after which the team began removing the undamaged amphorae below them.
After all of the objects are removed from the shipwreck, the hull of the ship will be given to İstanbul University.