Cyprus Shipwreck Museum

1967, Michael Katzev of the University Museum of Pennsylvania directed a team to survey the coast of Cyprus for shipwrecks. In Kyrenia, a sponge diver took the team to the site using a metal detector, proton magnetometer and propes, the group spent a month surveying the site to find the ship and the cargo over a large area.

During the summers of 1968 and 1969 the expedition, consisting of 50 underwater archaeologists, students and technicians employed stereo photography and other developed techniques to record the position of each object before they were raised. Then the ship’s wooden hull which was well preserved in the sand mud was ‘mapped’ labelled and lifted in pieces to the surface.

The objects in the museum are the original items on board during her last voyage about 2300 years ago. From them we can learn about the life of those traders. The main cargo consisted of more than 400 wine amphora’s, mostly made in Rhodes, which indicates that this was an important port of call for the ship.

On the other hand, ten distinct amphora shapes on board show a different island stop such as Samos in the north. Another part of the cargo of the ship was 9000 perfectly preserved almonds, which were found in jars in the ship’s hull.

At the stone quarry, probably on the island of Kos, masons carved letters of identification on the sides of 29 millstones which were laid in three rows over the keel. Although these were being transported as cargo they also acted as ballast.

From this knowledge, it can be assumed that the ship sailed southwards along the coast of Anatolia, calling at Samos, Kos and Rhodes before continuing eastwards to her final resting place in Cyprus.

During the voyage it is clear from more than 300 lead net weights left in the bow that the crew supplemented their food by fishing. Meals were probably prepared ashore, using large casserole pots and bronze cauldrons.

Sets of four wooden spoons, oil jugs, salt dishes and drinking cups recovered in the shipwreck suggest the number of the crew on the last voyage. The ship’s single sail had been taken down before sinking since in the stern were found more than 100 lead rigging rings from a large square sail stowed there.

The wooden hull, build mostly of Aleppo pine and originally measuring 47 feet, was preserved for a length of almost 40 feet, she sailed at 4 to 5 knots. The ship was built in the ‘shell first’ manner, quite the opposite of today’s method. Rather than building a skeleton of ribs first, her outer planking up from the keel was constructed and then the ribs were laid and these were secured with copper spikes. The ship was intended for long service and underwent many repairs. In the last reparation a skin of lead sheathing was applied to her body to keep the old ship waterproof. From analysis, it is thought that the ship was more than 80 years old the day she sank.

Preservation and conservation of the ship began in 1970 and took four years. The majority of the restoration was completed after the Turkish Peace Operation and finished in the year 1976. the last contributions were made in order to finish the project and to open it as a cultural service for the world. Our thanks go to the University Museum of Pennsylvania and other institutions which gave generous funds for the project and especially to the director Mr. Michael Katsev and to the members of the project.