The Underwater Archeology Museum in Bodrum ( Halikarnasos )

Have you ever thought of how underwater archeology works ? What difficulties it implies ? How can you manage to rescue the remains and the content of antique wrecks ?

Often underwater sites are inevitably difficult to access , especially deep waters are more hazardous in comparison to archeological work on dry land.

You need special archeologists to make it done as only these people can evaluate what is under the watersurface in the related sunken ship and how they can manage to derect those findings .

The archeologist and his team need to be able to dive and to get out those findings from the deep blue to the surface very carefully as it is quite delicate not to damage the goods . It is also much more expensive and time consuming .

Time to work under water for the archeologist is also limited due to oxygen supply .

In underwater archaeology dig tools like hand trowels , square units, clipboards, pencils , tape measures and other hand tools are all used in the same way as in normal excavations on land – the only difference is that you do all this under water .

Think also of the limited visibility of unclear waters and the current in the waterways that makes it difficult to act and to see the objects clearly ! It all makes it difficult to register the historical findings as the photo quality in unclear waters is also distracting the images .

For deep waters sometimes even submarines or remote equipment need to be used .

We all know that it takes sometimes decades to carve out ancients sites on the land – imagine all the difficulties that you will face under water !

Have you ever thought of how many unrevealed ship wrecks are in the underwater world and what kind of historical treasures are under the watersurface ?

Just at the Turkish coastline there are about 18.000 shipwrecks where lots of them are from the antique times . There was a lot of sea traffic in the Mediterrean Sea – especially trading ships were transporting a lot of different types of goods to countries in the Near East, Europe or Northern Africa .

This time I would like to tell you about the Underwater Archeological Museum of Bodrum that bears very specific beautiful historical pieces that definitely need to be seen .

Normally Bodrum is a worldwide popular travel destination for people who like boating , swimming , sun bathing , sea sports and night life . It is a great mediterrean old city with great bays around where you can have a lot of fun .

It is a nice sunny day end of September 2020 when we are also in Bodrum , having great days on the boat , enjoying the great mediterrean cuisine , the sun and the sea , escaping from the Covid 19 in the big cities and rest a little bit at the seaside .

But this day we decide to go to the old city center of Bodrum to visit the UnderwaterArcheological Museum which is always so amazing and impressive .

With our car we arrive over there and it is always a joy to walk along the pier , passing by the nice wooden colorful boats, seeing their sails flattering in the wind and the old cafes , watch the fishermen and arrive at the entrance of the museum – it is such a charmy place over here .

The Underwater Archeology Museum of Bodrum is located at the heart of the City in the old Castle of Bodrum directly at the main port – a castle that was built by the Knights of St John and named the Castle of St Peter in 1402 .

Probably this is also a very close location to the ancient Mausoleum of Halikarnassos which was one of the 7 World Wonders in the Ancient World. It is said that parts of St Peters Castle are built from remains of the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos in those days .

The weather is perfect – sunny and a little windy – a great day to walk around .

It was in the year 1962 when the Turkish Government decided to use the castle as a Museum for discoveries from shipwrecks that were found in the Aegean Sea .

The collection in the museum consists of numerous ancient amphoras in different shapes and sizes , glass , bronze, gold and iron items that were discovered in ancient shipwrecks .

Most of the items were excavated by teams of the Institute of Nautical Archeology (INA) from 1960 onwards .

The items which are displayed in the Museum are mainly from following ancient shipwrecks :

1.Finike – Gelidonya shipwreck 1200 BC

2.Bodrum – Yassiada shipwreck 700 AD – 700 amphoras from a merchant vessel ( Byzanthine )

3. Bodrum – Yassiada shipwreck 400 AD ( Roman )

4.Bodrum – Yassiada shipwreck 1600 AD ( Ottoman ) – silver coins from Seville

5.Seytan Deresi shipwreck 1600 BC

6.Marmaris -Serce Harbour shipwreck 1100 AD Collection of Islamic Glassware

7.Marmaris – Serce Harbour shipwreck 300 BC ( Hellenistic )

8.Kas- Uluburun shipwreck 1400 BC , 10 tons of cypriot copper ingots , 1ton pure tin ingots ,150 glass ingots , Mycanean pottery , Egyptian seals , 1 seal of Queen Nefertiti , jewelry

9. Tektas Burnu Classical Greek shipwreck 500 BC

One by one we walk through the different towers, sections and the garden .

The first hall that we arrive is fully displayed with amphoras of different sizes and forms that were discovered in different shipwrecks .

We walk through the different parts of the museum and are amazed of all the treasures that are displayed over here but my special focus this time is on the Carian Princess exhibition and the Islamic Glass Collection.

Princess Ada of Caria actually was a princess living in the 4th century BC and belonging to the Hecatomnids dynasty and she was a ruler of the Carian region as a Persian satrap in those times . Later she surrendered when Alexander the Great came to the Carian region and adopted him as her son . Alexander the Great later gave her the title of being the Queen of Caria under his rule .

In 1989 an archeologicalbteam came across a mysterious Necropolis area close to Halikarnassos ( Bodrum ) in Yokusbasi and started digging .What they found was an untouched well reserved 700 kg sarcophagus with the remains of a female body inside.

Everything was hinting that this buried lady was a very wealthy person as the burial chamber was in full tact and the lady was wearing some golden jewelry and a golden diadem in form of a myrtle branch .

The sarcaphagos was dated back to the Early Hellenistic period and its female owner actually was most probably ( it is still not 100% proofed ) the Queen of Caria ! What they found was the 2400 year old grave of the ancient female ruler of the Carian region , a lady who was probably sharing her table with Mausoleus , Artemisia and Alexander the Great in the antique times .

The Carian Princess got her last honorable place in the Museum of Bodrum as a kind of memory and tribute to her .

Another great location in the museum is the glasswreck hall – here an ancient shipwreck , probably from 1025 AD departing from the Syrian Coastline , is displayed . The ship that was only 16 m long was carrying a freight of about 3 tons of raw and broken glass which made it so outstanding .

Probably it was on its way to a glass factory in the Byzantine Empire . The ship itself due to its great construction for its times as well as the glass collection that dates back to the Early Islamic age are a treasure for Islamic history of its kind .

The glass hall that is exposed just next to the shipwreck is also amazing – in the darkness you can see the shining different glassware objects found in several shipwrecks as well as in excavations in ancient cities like Stratonikeia , Kaunos and Serce Harbour in Kas , in ancient Lykia .

Words are not enough to tell the miracle of these great objects , partly found in the deep sea and brought to the surface by great people diving into the Blue and getting the treasures out of the Deep !

Just the view of those is even mindblowing and exciting.

This ancient glass collection is the 4th biggest in the world of its kind .

We are strolling around and admiring all the different exhibitions inside the building as well as in the castle’s garden . Gorgeous sculptures are standing over there under the blue sky and the warm sun .The colors fit so nicely together .

You have the feeling that you are strolling in ancient times in an ancient garden .

There is also a peacock walking around between the old amphoras -what a beautiful bird.

It is exciting to watch these undermerged civilizations which were successfully brought to the surface after hundreds or even thousands of years .Thanks to the Underwater Archeology it gives us a lot of insight into the maritime world history .

Today all traces of human existence underwater which are one hundred years old or even older are under the protection by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

This convention’s goal is to prevent any destruction or loss of historic and cultural heritage and looting. It helps states to protect their underwater cultural heritage with an international legal framework and support .

What a great day it was – we spent more then half a day in the castle to explore . I just look to the wonderful Blue Agean Sea from the terrace of the castle , watch the beautiful scenery , the boats , the bay – we had a marvellous time to observe ancient marine world history and I can just recommend to visit this museum when your way crosses Bordum – ancient Halikarnassos .

After our visit to the museum it is a must walkbthrough the narrow white streets of Bodrum to get some sweets at the very old Yunuslar Patisserie .

We need to have a coffee and some great pastry just to let our great impressions sink and have some nice discussions on our findings and learnings of the day .

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