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Serçe Limani, An Eleventh-Century Shipwreck

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Abstract

For almost a millennium, a modest wooden ship lay underwater off the coast of Serçe Limani, Turkey, filled with evidence of trade and objects of daily life. The ship, now excavated by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, trafficked in both the Byzantine and Islamic worlds of its time. The ship is known as "the Glass Wreck" because its cargo included three metric tons of glass cullet, including broken Islamic vessels, and eighty pieces of intact glassware. In addition, it held glazed Islamic bowls, red-ware cooking vessels, copper cauldrons and buckets, wine amphoras, weapons, tools, jewelry, fishing gear, remnants of meals, coins, scales and weights, and more. This first volume of the complete site report introduces the discovery, the methods of its excavation, and the conservation of its artifacts. Chapters cover the details of the ship, its contents, the probable personal possessions of the crew, and the picture of daily shipboard life that can be drawn from the discoveries.

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... Pomey, Kahanov, and Rieth conclude their ship list with the 11th-century Serçe Limanı Bay, Turkey, shipwreck because it is well regarded as a marked point where subsequent Mediterranean vessels are almost exclusively frame-based [41,45]. Serçe Limanı is also an agreed upon wreck in the archaeological community for this transition due to some scholars not entirely convinced of the earlier initial conversion taking place [46]. ...
... Fastening patterns varied with construction familiarity. Shipbuilders that worked on the Serçe Limanı hull used multiple nails per frame station (with evidence of treenails in repairs), while there was an apparent standardization subsequently across the basin employing only one or two [45]. In the West, the Culip VI shipwreck provided a similar assessment as the Serçe Limanı example with additional nails per frame station [74]. ...
... For instance, the continual use of scarf joints between strakes was essential for the edge-joined planking connections and became obsolete in frame-based construction. Planking scarfs on eastern vessels, such as Serçe Limanı, Boccalama B, and Rhodes 2, suggest anachronisms from the earlier shell-first horizon fulfilling habitus without providing actual construction benefit [45,73,77]. The decision by several communities of practice to continue sealing the inside of a frame-based hull with pitch is another example of habitus taking priority over pragmatism. ...
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Shipbuilding is inherently a social process involving numerous craftsmen utilizing their knowledge and skills while working together to produce a complex machine. The construction of a ship traditionally relies on a stratified apprenticeship system that entails a master teaching apprentices their trade. In this type of setting, the shipyard becomes the classroom where the younger generations learn and mimic mannerisms from their instructors. The development of this technique is considered an individual practice, which, with other construction methodologies and shared interactions, becomes social structures within a specific society. Repetition of this type of practice may reaffirm the existing structure, which in this article relates to various communities of shipbuilders. This paper addresses shipbuilding’s social perspective through an operational process based on surviving shipwreck timbers. Two case studies are addressed: Mediterranean shipbuilding between the Medieval and Modern periods and a case study of late 17th-century French shipbuilding social organization.
... Another important point of the Serce Limani is to host the special hull remains significant for vessel design and construction technique dating back to 11 th Century. The first attempt to discover the presence of the shipwreck was made in 1973 by the Institute of Nautical Archeology [1]. Geographical information on Serce Limani and the view of Serce Limani are given in Fig. 1. ...
... Geographical information on Serce Limani and the view of Serce Limani are given in Fig. 1. In the field excavations, it was aimed at unearthing the cargo of glass and finding clues about evolution of wooden hulls [1,2]. The discovered hull and glass remains are now exhibited in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology at the Bodrum Castle in Turkey shown Fig. 1b. ...
... The discovered hull and glass remains are now exhibited in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology at the Bodrum Castle in Turkey shown Fig. 1b. In literature, the most comprehensive investigation on the Serce Limani shipwreck was conducted by George [1] and George et al. [3]. More details are available in the first volume of the investigation report [1], which includes chapters on the ship, the site and excavation. ...
... The source of some of the glass found on the Serçe Limani shipwreck is probably from glass workshops along the Fatimid Syrian coast. It has been suggested that the plant ash portion of the glasses may have come from Tyre as it was a famous glass production centre during this period (Bass 2009). The presence of raw glass that belongs to the mixednatron plant ash glass type in Zeyrek Camii raised the possibility that a glass workshop was set up near the church during this period (Canav-Özgümüş and Kanyak 2015): perhaps, natron and plant ash glasses of group 2 were mixed there. ...
... Zeyrek Camii Group 2 ZC-06 (2006) a number of glass cullts with this composition that could have come from Fatimid Syria (Bass 2009;Brill 2009). Nonetheless, the archaeological and scientific evidence suggest a matured glass trading network existed between the Byzantine Empire and the Fatimid Middle East in this period. ...
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Fifteen glass window, vessel and glass chunk samples collected from the western part and substructure of Zeyrek Camii (the Pantokrator Church) in Istanbul were analysed using an electron microprobe (EPMA). The results show that these samples are all soda-lime-silica glass. Based on the major and minor elements, two different compositional groups were identified and evidence of recycling/mixing was also revealed. Group 1 is plant ash-based glass, while group 2 is the result of mixing natron and plant ash glasses. Comparison with contemporary glass objects from the eastern Mediterranean shows that these glasses probably derived from at least two different production zones in the Syro-Palestinian region: (1) possibly Damascus or Banias and (2) possibly Tyre. The authors suggest that the trading of plant ash glasses between the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East in the 11th–12th centuries AD was well established based on the archaeological and scientific evidence.
... The Uluburun wreck was proof that the complete and scientific archaeological excavation of a single shipwreck can define or redefine what is known about a given era. For Bass personally, the Uluburun shipwreck proved the thesis that he had laid out 30 years earlier regarding the central role of Syro-Canaanite merchants in Bronze 6 Bass 2004;2009. Age trade. ...
... [36][37][38]Figures 2.3 and 2.4 are bi-plots of the samples subjected to both EPMA and LA-ICP compared with 9th and 12th century raw furnace glasses from al-Raqqa and raw glass from 11th century al-Raqqa and raw glass from the early 11th century shipwreck off the coast of Turkey at Serçe Limani. [39,40] The expected elevated levels of magnesia and potassium oxide levels that are found in plant ash glasses and lower levels in natron glasses have been detected. The lower levels of both are also found in some enamel samples containing high lead oxide used in the decoration of the mosque lamps. ...
... Parallels found in the Serçe Limanı cargo are crucial for dating the Cape Stoba shipwreck. The Serçe Limanı ship sunk in the later part of the 3rd decade of the 11th century, carrying a mixed cargo that included pottery, glassware and glass cullet, probably in transit from the Fatimid Syrian coast to a glass-making centre in Byzantine waters (Van Doorninck, 1989: 250-7;Bass, Matthews, Steffy and Van Doorninck, 2004). Among the finds on the wreck were glass weights for pan balances, used for weighing gold and silver Fatimid coins. ...
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The Cape Stoba shipwreck is located on the seabed off the island of Mljet in Croatia at a depth of 21–28 m. Following initial investigation in 1975, four seasons of excavation have been carried between 2010 and 2014 by the Department for Underwater Archaeology of the Croatian Conservation Institute, joined by the Department of Studi Umanistici of the Università Ca' Foscari of Venice from 2012. The wreck-site is evidenced by a cargo of nine amphora types dated to the 10th-11th century AD, produced in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea area, and glassware of Levantine production. The only direct evidence of the ship itself to date, is one iron anchor.
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