Archaeology Odyssey 2:4, September/October 1999


Recovering 3,000-year-old cargo

By Cemal Pulak

In the summer of 1982, a novice sponge diver working the waters off the southern coast of Turkey reported to his captain that he had seen “metal biscuits with ears” on the sea floor. The captain knew immediately that these “biscuits” were actually ancient metal ingots, so he alerted archaeologists from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University and Turkey’s Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The diver, it turns out, had discovered a spectacular shipwreck from the Late Bronze Age (c. 1600–1100 B.C.).

Over the years INA survey teams had interviewed most of Turkey’s sponge divers, teaching them how to spot shipwrecks as they scoured the seabed for sponges. That is how the captain knew to inform the authorities. Two years later, in 1984, the INA began its excavation of the site.

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