Ancient Yenikapı 12 wreck to ‘return to life’

Ancient Yenikapı 12 wreck to ‘return to life’

KOCAELİ - Anadolu Agency
Ancient Yenikapı 12 wreck to ‘return to life’

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The “Yenikapı 12” ship, which was among the 37 ancient wrecks discovered during archaeological excavations as part of the Marmaray and subway projects in Istanbul - considered the world’s largest shipwreck collection - will return to sail the seas when the construction of its replica is completed. 

Ancient Yenikapı 12 wreck to ‘return to life’ The replica of the 9.64-meter-long and 2.60-meter-wide ship, thought to date back to the 9th century, is set to be launched to the sea next year. The head of Istanbul University’s Department of Marine Archaeology and the Yenikapı Sunken Ships Project, Associate Professor Ufuk Kocabaş, said the excavations that started in Yenıkapı in 2004 unearthed the remains of 37 wooden boats and ships. Kocabaş said the boats, constructed between the 5th and 10th centuries, were considered the world’s largest sunken ship collection. 

Within the scope of a project initiated as part of the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) Joint Operational Program in the Black Sea Basin, a replica of one wreck, numbered 12, is being constructed in its original proportions.  

“The budget of the project is 55,000 euros. The construction process will be shot from the beginning to the end as a documentary film. Once the replica is finished, it will be launched into the sea in 2016 and will return to life. Visitors will be able to experience life on a Middle Age boat. 

The reconstruction of the ship will also draw attention to Istanbul’s rich maritime culture and millennia-old maritime traditions. Preliminary works have been conducted and we will complete the construction in a shipyard,” Kocabaş said. 

He added that before the construction of the replica, the drawings of the ship had been made by Assistant Professor Işıl Özsait Kocabaş under the consultancy of Istanbul Technical University Ship Construction Faculty Professor Abdi Kükner. 

He said the construction process would also be documented in a book, adding that the Yenikapı boats and ships, which all sank over the course of around 500 years, showed traces of technological development over time. The Yenikapı 12 wreck is one of the best examples of this process.

Ancient Yenikapı 12 wreck to ‘return to life’

A small Latin-flagged trade ship 

According to Kocabaş, the Yenikapı 12 has the characteristics of a traditional ship construction plan that continued until the 9th century AD. 

“The ship has unique information about vessel construction of its era, as most of its body parts have been preserved until today,” he said.

“The 3D drawings made in the excavation field were used in the reconstruction process. Işıl Özsait Kocabaş, who is carrying out scientific work on the wreckage, reports that the Yenikapı 12 was a small Latin-flagged trade ship in the 9th century AD. Its body was designed to carry excessive loads,” he added. Kocabaş stated that they were seeking answers to questions such as how many people had worked during the ship’s construction and where the materials had been obtained.  “Throughout this work of experimental archaeology, the Yenikapı 12 will be reconstructed,” he added.