In 1982 C.E., a Turkish sponge-diver was diving near Uluburun, a rocky peninsula extending from Turkey's southern coastline.
The diver discovered a trove of copper ingots.
Courtesy of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology
He reported his find to the authorities. Very soon, a team of archaeologists from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology in Texas traveled to Turkey.
What the Turkish sponge-diver had found, 150 feet below the surface, was the earliest shipwreck known to man.
The ship was a trading vessel of the fourteenth century B.C.E. with thousands of items aboard.
For ten years archaeologists excavated and studied the find. Teams of divers worked on the shipwreck and many more worked on the surface cleaning, conserving and cataloging the finds.
In September 1994, the excavation of this Late Bronze Age Shipwreck was completed . Since then, the work on studying and conserving the finds has continued at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Turkey.
George Bass, leader of the team of archaeologists, said at the time,
In short, we are salvaging the greatest of all treasures - the treasure of knowledge.
You have been selected to work as an assistant at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Bodrum, Turkey.
You are working on three tasks. Using information from the cargo that was found from the wrecked ship at Uluburun, you are going to report on:
- the goods that were traded between societies around the Mediterranean Sea;
- the different societies that were involved in trade during this period;
- the probable route of this trading vessel in the Mediterranean Sea.
You will be required to make a report and presentation of your findings at the completion of the tasks.
You have just heard that you are going to be working at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Bodrum, Turkey.
Courtesy of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology
Your first task is to locate Bodrum, Turkey in relation to your home country.
- On a map of the world locate your home country or state.
- Print this map and mark your home.
- Here you will find a map of Turkey - find Bodrum on the west coast.
- Now go here and you will find the location of Bodrum marked with a cross.
- Next to the map you will find different zoom levels.
- Change the zoom level by clicking the next closest arrow.
- Your map will enlarge to include a larger area around Bodrum.
- Keep on doing this until your map includes your home country/state.
- On the printout of the first map, link Bodrum with your home country/state by drawing a colored line.
In preparation for your work on the three tasks, increase your knowledge of the Mycenaeans and Mycenaean trade around the Mediterranean Sea. You will find information at the following sites:
As you read, look for answers to the following questions:
- Why did the Mycenaeans need to take part in trade with other countries?
- What factors helped them to become successful traders?
- How did trade help them become more powerful?
The date of the Uluburun ship has been placed towards the end of the fourteenth century B.C.E. One of the main methods used for dating the ship has been dendrochronology.
You can look up the meaning of this word HERE.
You can learn more about the process HERE.
Why do you think this is an appropriate means of dating this particular archaeological find?
What other methods of dating do you think would be appropriate in this case?
You are now ready to examine some of the artifacts from the shipwreck at Uluburun. Create an index card for each artifact you examine. You might like to work in a small group on this task, each member of the group contributing 2/3 artifacts.
Using all the information you have gathered, you are now ready to complete the three tasks. You will first need to make a copy of the map of the Eastern Mediterranean
The work of archaeologists can be compared with that of a good detective. They find and gather evidence, and slowly and methodically they put it together like a jigsaw puzzle.
They compare finds from one source with those from another and make inferences. Sometimes they make an informed guess, and then search for proof for their ideas.
You are now going to work in this way.
1. The goods that were traded
Create a list of all the goods you think were traded around the eastern Mediterranean during the late Bronze Age. You might want to organize this list into two sections, organic material and artifacts. You can gather your information from:
2. The different societies that were involved in trade during this period
- Using your index cards create a list of all the societies that were involved in trade during this period.
- As you create this list locate each society on the outline map.
- Alongside the name of each society write the goods that they exported.
- If you have any information on what they imported, add this to your list.
3. The probable route of this trading vessel in the Mediterranean Sea
- Using your outline map of the eastern Mediterranean, and all the information you now have, work out what might have been the vessel's route.
- With colored arrows mark this route on the map.
- Beneath your map write an explanation of how you came to this conclusion, and support your explanation with evidence.
If you need a little help with this you will find some questions here. The answers you give will provide some clues.
Conclusion and Evaluation
1) Gather together the text and graphics you have from working on the three tasks.
2) Present these in a clear and attractive manner on a display board.
3) Make your final report to the rest of the class, using your display board of text and graphics to support the oral report.
We have seen from the work carried out on the shipwreck at Uluburun that there was a great deal of trade carried on between the different societies around the Mediterranean sea. These cultures were all quite different and they exchanged all manner of goods.
What else do you think was exchanged besides goods?
What influence do you think this trade had on how the people thought and acted?
You might want to extend this lesson with the following activities.
Imagine that you are a sailor aboard this ship. Write a short account of some of your experiences.
Answering these questions first will help you write the account:
- Who are you?
- Where do you come from?
- Where are you going?
- What cargo are you carrying?
- What stops have you made?
- What are your proposed ports of call?
- Who owns the ship?
- What cargo might you carry on the return journey?
- Who are your fellow crewmen?
- What is the most pleasant and most unpleasant experience you have had on the voyage?
You can get some of the information from the archaeological finds in the wreck, some from your knowledge of the Mycenaeans, and the rest from your imagination.
- Imagine that you are the captain of the doomed ship.
- Once you knew there was no hope of saving the ship you told the crew to abandon it.
- You were the last to leave but managed to reach shore.
- One of your first tasks is to write a report for the owners of the ship, describing the events leading up to the shipwreck and the eventual outcome.
- Write the report.