Ancient sea route discovered in Mersin
KONYA – Anadolu Agency
Underwater archaeological work carried out by Konya Selçuk University (SU) in the southern province of Mersin’s Silifke district has unearthed a 5,000-year-old sea route.
The SU Underwater Research Center’s Selçuk-1 Scientific Research Vessel observed the coasts of Mersin, located in the eastern Mediterranean, where traces of the world’s first maritime route and earliest harbors were found.
The work was carried out under the consultancy of the Silifke Museum with contributions by the Turkish Underwater Archaeology Foundation and the Suna-İnan Kıraç Mediterranean Civilizations Institute.
The center’s deputy director, Assistant Professor Hakan Öniz, said the work had been initiated to determine the location of archaeological wreckages. He said they had found important cultural heritage artifacts from the Bronze Age to the Ottoman era including anchoring spots, ancient vessel wreckages and ancient shipyards.
Öniz said high-resolution sonar systems were used in the Selçuk-1 vessel, and continued:
“With the technology of using four different sonar systems at the same time, we mapped the bottom of the sea. Divers made scientific work on wreckages, which were taken into the inventory of the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Scientific work has been continuing to present the results during international symposiums. Anchors and wreckages have already showed us the sea route on the coasts of Silifke has been used for at least 5,000 years with vessels traveling between Cyprus, Egypt, Rhodes, Knidos, Italy and all the coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean.”
At least 100 vessels were produced every year
Öniz said the work revealed shipyards had been established in the region as early as the 8th century B.C. “It is known that the cedar trees on the Taurus Mountains were the most important export item of the region in the ancient age. But new data reveals that at least 100 vessels were produced in the region in a large shipyard. These shipyards were established on natural-slope rocky grounds. Underwater work unearthed some parts of the shipyards that remained underwater after earthquakes,” he said.