Bronze Age Shipwrecks



The hall consists of three sections. Just inside the entry, finds from the Cape Gelidonya ((the) late 13th century BC) and Şeytan Deresi (the16th Century B.C) shipwrecks are exhibited.

On the left side of this room are artefacts gathered by the first scientific shipwreck excavation in the world, at Cape Gelidonya. The site of the wreck was shown to the archaologists by Captain Kemal Aras, a Bodrum sponge boat owner. The shipwreck was excavated in 1960 under the direction of George F.Bass.

This was a Syrian merchant's trading vessel. The artefacts excavated from the wreck shed light on the international relations of the period.

With the copper ingots loaded in Cyprus, the vessel sank at Beşadalar (Five Islands), opposite Cape Gelidonya between Finike and Antalya.
Captain's Log Book;

"From Syria, we started our voyage through the eastern Mediterranean in my 13-14 metre long vessel. We stopped at Cyprus to get approximately one ton of metal cargo. Copper ingots shaped like dried ox-hides were wrapped in mats and carefully loaded on board. We put bronze tools and scrap metal in baskets with shrubs and branches beneath to protect our hull. Now, five of the crew are sitting at the stern, with an oil lamp for light. I am on deck getting myself ready for trading at one of the harbors we will approach in a couple of hours. Tied to my wrist is a cylindrical stone seal from my father that I use for formal stamps. Perhaps my son will one day use this seal. My sailors carry scarabs for good luck. They play at knuckle bones in spare moments during this long voyage. Whetstones are used to sharpen the tools which will be offered for sale.

By following the land, we are heading for Cape Gelidonya on the Anatolian shore, watching the west current and the wind. In a few hours we will reach Phoenikus (Finike) and get some drinking water. We have to pass first through Beş Adalar (Five Islands), which is a very dangerous place for sailors."

As the ship passed between the two islands nearest the to mainland, due to the strong current it hit the pinnacle of rock that nears the surface of the sea. The vessel sant to a depth of 26-28 metres, and Cape Gelidonya became the grave of one more vessel.

The large jars (pithoi) and amphoras on the right side of the first room were shown to the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (I.N.A) by sponge diver Cumhur İlik. The wreck was excavated in 1975 by the I.N.A. team of Prof. Dr. George F. Bass, who dates the pottery to the 16 th century BC.
Captain's Log Book;
"We started sailing after loading my small boat with six pithoi and different types of amphoras, of a uniformly coarse brown fabric, from a small ceramic workshop next to Gökova Bay. We were taking them to a near-by harbor. There were strong winds as we sailed in Gökova Bay. When we reached Şeytan Deresi (Devil Creek), a water spout turned my boat upside down. The hull spilled out its cargo and floated away." The cargo remained in the sand on the bottom of the sea at a depth of 33 metres until it was excavated by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.
In the second hall, the vessel that sank at Uluburun (Great Cape) is shown at harbor. The remains of the ship are shown under water as they were found. This wreck was discovered in 1982 by Mehmet Çakır, a sponge diver from Bodrum. The scientific investigation of the wreck was begun in October 1982 by a team led by Bodrum Museum Director T. Oğuz Alpözen.
The site was excavated between 1984 and 1994, first by Dr. George F. Bass and then by Dr. Cemal Pulak, for the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M Universty.

Captain's Log Book;

" Captain of this ship, I am proud that my king has entrusted to me the royal treasures in our cargo hold; delicate gold and silver pendants, bracelets and rings from the jewellers of Canaan and Egypt, rare ebony log transported from tropical Africa, amber beads from lands so far to the north that few men known the source, and the teeth of elephants and hip-popotamuses hunted along the shores of my own country.
"Shall I drink a toast with this great golden goblet?"

After leaving the coast of Syria behind us, we sail westward to Cyprus for additional cargo. Porters brought on board 365 ingots of pure copper, smelted from the ore of the island's famed mines. In all the weigh ten tons.

"Mixed with a ton of tin ingots already on my ship, this copper will make enough bronze to outfit an entire army! In thanking his gods for delivery of this wealth, the king who receives it will surely burn as incense some of the resin my ship is carrying in a hundred Canaanite jars. But I am instructed not to tell you the name of the king to whom I am to deliver this wealth even my crew does not know our destination. They know only that we continue to sail westward.

I have enstrusted the safety of our voyage to our own patron goddess. We carry her gold-covered bronze figure at the bow of the ship. In celebrating her magnificence, my crew dance to the sound of the bronze cymbals, ivory trumpet, and lutes of tortoise-shell we carry.
We stop for the night at the entrance to the huge bay that cuts into the land where the Hittites live. We will hug the coast of the bay till we round the southern-most point of this land. But now some of my sailors are putting out their fishing nets. The Mycenaean envoy who accompanies us pours wine from his own pitcher into his own cup. I will weigh carefully anything he sells with the animal-shaped weights I carry with me: one of them is the finest ever seen in my time.

Now the sun is rising and my men hoist the huge stone anchor that has held us firmly through the night. The wind is rising, but our stout hull, its cedar planks joined tightly together, will carry us safely through the waves. I do not fear pirates, as we are well armed with swords, daggers, spears, stone maces and bows and arrows.

Now we must round the southernmost protrusion of land, the Great Point, but the wind is suddenly coming from the south. My helmsman tries to turn us away from the sheer cliff ahead. We must furl our sail.

It is too late. We have struck the cliff. The ship and all on board are sinking in 33 fathoms of water. We have finally reached land, but it is not our original destination.

For bringing my cargo to you, I would like to thank the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (I.N.A) at Texas A&M University. I also wish to thank Minister of Culture, M.İstemihan Talay, the undersecretary, Fikret Nesip Üçcan, who asked a scenario to be written around the artefacts, the Director of the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums, Dr. Alpay Pasinli; and the Director of the Centre of Administration of Circulating Capital Funds of the Ministry of Culture, Yemlihan Atalay. Welcome to all."