Ancient shipwreck discovered off Turkish coast

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Ancient shipwreck discovered off Turkish coast

August 26, 2013 - 05:19
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Seventeenth-century Ottoman ship laden with cargo of valuable Dutch plates. Vessel is latest in long line of ships discovered in area.

Remains of 17th-century Ottoman vessel

Work has commenced to excavate and exhibit ship remains from different eras that were discovered during underwater excavations in the 6000-year-old town of Limantepe (Greek Klazomenai) on Turkey’s western coast.

A 17th-century Ottoman merchant vessel transporting plates from the Netherlands is the latest in a long line of ships discovered in the area. Underwater excavations initially commenced in Limantepe 13 years ago. The site intrigued researchers when they could not initially identify areas in the sea on aerial photographs of İskele in the district of Urla.

Under the supervision of Professor Hayat Erkanal, twenty underwater archaeologists are taking part in the excavations at Limantepe, the site of a prehistoric settlement which witnessed humanity’s passage from being hunter-gatherers to farmers.

“We estimate that there are more than a thousand plates inside this ship. The ship remains may degenerate because it was not fully embedded beneath the sea floor,” said Professor Erkanal. “ Also, there are threats from fishing nets and ill-intentioned people. We have to immediately unearth these remains that are beyond the boundaries of our excavation area,” he added.

We estimate that there are more than a thousand plates inside this ship. The ship remains may degenerate because it was not fully embedded beneath the sea floor

—Professor Hayat Erkanal

Excavations coordinated by the Ankara University Underwater Research and Application Center (ANKÜSAM) are continuing on the base of the port, which dates back to the seventh-century B.C. Many ship remains from different eras have been discovered, with recovered items being desalinated in a laboratory in preparation for exhibition.

Encompassing a vast area underwater, the harbour of ancient Klazomenai, will likely see excavation work continuing for years to come. According to Professor Erkanal, exhibitions of shipwrecks would be vital in making İzmir a world-renowned center for underwater archaeology.

Klazomenai or Clazomenae was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia and a member of the Ionian League. It is surmised the port was submerged in the sixth-century B.C. due to an earthquake or some other cataclysmic event.

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