Sunken Bosphorus ship on display in Istanbul Museum

Sunken Bosphorus ship on display in Istanbul Museum

Sunken Bosphorus ship on display in Istanbul Museum

The replica of Yenikapı 12, a sunken ship unearthed during Marmaray subway excavations in Istanbul, is currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

Yenikapı 12 is one of 37 ships dug up during excavations carried out by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, and is supposed to be the most accurate example to date of a small commercial ship once used in the Middle East.

A coastal maritime vessel, the ship has drawn attention for its flat bottom, which allows it to enter shallow harbors and bays.

It was examined as part of a doctoral thesis for a student of Istanbul University, and is said to be the first Bosphorus wreck to have received such thorough analysis. The replica was carefully crafted after the original specifications, and even used the same wood types: oak and chestnut.

After a two-year construction period, the new Yenikapı 12 was finally launched to sea last month from the Tuzla shipyard, before being moved to the garden of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

The ship will also be on display during the 15th International Ship and Boat Archaeology Symposium, which will take place in 2018 in Marseilles.

The Yenikapı 12 was a 10-meter-long and 2.30-meter-wide cargo ship that sailed short distances, Istanbul Archaeology Museums Director Zeynep Kızıltan said, speaking to the Anadolu Agency.

The ship’s conservation was originally part of a doctorate thesis for a student in the Department of the Protection and Restoration of Cultural Heritages at Istanbul University. The data subsequently obtained by that thesis enabled the replica to be built, the director said.

She also said the ship went on display in the garden of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums after a test run on the sea.

“The aim of displaying the ship is to give museum-goers an opportunity to learn about historical naval vessels,” she added.

According to Kızıltan, the ship boasts 12 amphorae and a section the captain or owner could have used as a kitchen.

“This section contained kitchen units and a basket with sherry stones in it. This gave us an idea about when the ship sank—probably May or June. The discovery of olive seeds on board also suggests that the ship was probably used for short distance olive oil or wine transportation,” she said.

Of the 37 Byzantine-era shipwrecks unearthed during the Marmaray subway excavations, 33 are being conserved by Istanbul University, and four by the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Institute, Kızıltan noted.

Professor Ufuk Kocabaş and his team at the Istanbul University laboratory are responsible for the long-term works,
she said.

With the conservation of many ships already complete, the next step is reconstruction. “Only then will they be ready for display at the museum,” Kızıltan added.