Rhodian shipwreck from the Roman period found off Turkish coast

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A shipwreck originating from the Greek island of Rhodes, dating back to the third century AD, was found in the depths of the Gulf of Fethiye [Greek Makri] within the scope of the study being carried out by the Turkish Shipwreck Inventory Project: Blue Heritage (TUBEP).

Rhodian shipwreck from the Roman period found off Turkish coast
Credit: AA
With the Turkish Shipwreck Inventory Project, which is supported by the Presidency of Strategy and Budget, the underwater cultural heritage of the Fethiye coast has been mapped by researchers from Dokuz Eylül University (DEU) Marine Sciences and Technology Institute.

The latest works of the researchers, under the presidency of DEU Marine Sciences and Technology Institute Vice Director associate Dr. Harun Özdaş, revealed the Rhodian shipwreck, which was discovered as three heaps on a 28-38 metre (92-125 feet) slope underwater. The shipwreck mainly features amphorae used for the transportation of commercial products.

Rhodian shipwreck from the Roman period found off Turkish coast
Credit: AA

It was determined that the shipwreck was the “last Rhodes shipwreck” belonging to the Roman Period. The results of the research were published in the Turkish Journal of Archeology and Ethnography.

Özdaş told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they are mapping the underwater cultural heritage in the Turkish seas as part of the Turkish Shipwreck Inventory Project: Blue Heritage.

Rhodian shipwreck from the Roman period found off Turkish coast
Credit: AA
Rhodian shipwreck from the Roman period found off Turkish coast
Credit: AA

Noting that they attached special importance to the Gulf of Fethiye in the geography that opens to the Mediterranean during their studies, Özdaş said, “The most important finding of our study is the Fethiye Karaburun Rhodes shipwreck. It is a shipwreck that we date to the end of the 3rd century AD, and its main cargo is amphorae.”

Özdaş stated that they detected “heaps” about 20 metres from the shore during the underwater survey and gave the following information: “The findings started as debris at a depth of 28 metres and a heap appeared on a slope of 30-38 metres. The amphora form with spur-handles shows the last production of Rhodes. After the 3rd century AD, the production of these amphoras was halted. This is the only shipwreck example on the Turkish coast dated to this period. Therefore, we can say that we have reached the latest Rhodes shipwreck belonging to the Roman Period here.”

Rhodian shipwreck from the Roman period found off Turkish coast
Credit: AA

Explaining that the shipwreck consisted of amphora cargo as the wooden parts of the ship disintegrated underwater, Özdaş stated that they think the merchant ship, which might have sunk due to the storm, was 20-30 metres long.

Expressing that a crew of six, including the captain, served on the merchant ships of the period, Özdaş said that Rhodes was a major main port at that time and traded extensively with the cities of  Asia Minor.

Özdaş added, “The Rhodian amphorae found in the shipwreck probably carried products from the region of the Gulf of Fethiye which is located on the site of the ancient Greek city of Telmessos. Agricultural products were transported to Rhodes after being packaged. From there, they were sent to Mediterranean countries and European shores.”

The vice director also pointed out that within the scope of the “Turkish Shipwreck Inventory Project: Blue Heritage,” approximately 40 shipwrecks off the Turkish coast were identified and recorded to date.

Source: Anadolu Agency via Daily Sabah [February 21, 2022]

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