Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

Divers Retrieve Timbers from Two Ancient Shipwrecks

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Dive News
November 27, 2005

The Institute for Maritime Studies of the University of Haifa, Israel, announced that items from several shipwrecks were recently excavated by a large diving cadre though the University. One vessel dates back to the Byzantine period (approximately at the end of the 5th century CE) and the other from the early Islamic period at the beginning of the 8th century CE...

The Byzantine wreck is the remains of a ship which carried building stones. Eighty stones were found stacked neatly in ithe ship's hold. During other years' diving seasons, the stones were removed layer by layer, exposing the ship's internal planking shwon to be protected by matting.

In the 2005 season the divers dismantled the planking and studied the interior of the hull. The last step was the sawing out of a section of the ship's hull for detailed study. The timbers from this section were retrieved from the seabed and transferred to the recently installed conservation laboratory at the University of Haifa.

The waterlogged wood is delicate and unable to withstand any physical pressure. It would simply crumble to dust if not kept submerged in water. As a result experts treated the ancient timbers with great care in an atmosphere of 100% relative humidity. Having the timbers at the university laboratory enables research about their origin and the structure of the ancient vessel itself. This approach also will make it possible to conserve, restore, and reassemble at some future date.

The shipwreck from the Islamic period was found at a depth of the first shipwreck excavated in the Mediterranean dated to the 8th century. In addition to a large section of the hull, the site included other items including ceramic pots holding fish and food remnants in their original positions, wooden artifacts, and anchors.

About 80 divers participated in the 2005 season, including about fifty volunteers, 10 from abroad (England, U.S.A. and the Netherlands), and about three dozen students, most from the.

The Dor/Tantura expedition is a combined venture of the Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa, K. Raveh, and the Nautical Archaeology Society of Great Britain (NAS), headed by Chris Brandon.

Source: University of Haifa


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