ULUBURUN II – A Cargo Vessel of 1300 BC


These days Netsel Marina in Marmaris is hosting the most unusual vessel. Granted that, if we would disregard the two side rudders in plantain timber, the several stone anchors and, of course, the massive square sail, she is perhaps not too different from the cargo vessels of the Med, which one could have seen as late as the second half of the twentieth century. Who would nowadays sail such a vessel?

This project is the brainchild of the group named 360 DERECE, translated as 360 Degrees, a dedicated group of scientists from various disciplines and craftspeople. Their aim is to rebuild and reconstruct historic vessels and their program is diverse: Next to this replica from the Antiquity, one can see the famous “Kayik”s of Izmir, a “Trireme,” the galley of the Antiquity; a “Tirhandil”, the trading and sponge diver vessel of the Aegean Sea – all of them are among their objects of interest.

For the wreck site location click map.
For the wreck site location click map to the right.

The Uluburun wreck was discovered by a sponge diver named Mehmet Cakir in 1982 off the Cape of Uluburun, close to Kas (N 360 07,9′ E 0290 41,0′) in southern Turkey near Antalya. Her stern rested at the depth of 44 m and her bow at 52 m. Some of the artifacts were at 62 m. The National Geographic Society provided the means for the excavation in the 1984 work by the team under Prof. George Bass of Texas A&M University. After an incredible number of more than 22.400 dives, the puzzle surrendered itself sufficiently to a reconstruction attempt, thus came into existence the Uluburun II.

The antique vessel sank in a storm around 1300 BC. It was the time of the Bronze Age, the steel not discovered yet. Indeed her main cargo consisted of copper and tin ingots, the raw materials necessary for making bronze. Next to the main cargo were a huge number of very valuable artifacts, including the seal of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt, which were salvaged after the “long sleep”. The excavated remains of the original vessel rest today in the Underwater Archaeology Museum of Bodrum, located in the Crusader’s Castle of Bodrum.

For more information about the the Uluburun Wreck please click here.
Below are the pictures of the vessel, which is presently preparing for a ring tour of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Fair Winds, Uluburun!

The “Swallows Tail” scarp, caulked only where caulking makes sense. These and other details show that already in the Bronze Age vessels of high sophistication were built in the Eastern Med.
View into the holds. Today it doubles as a cozy cabin for the crew.
The famous stone anchors. 1300 BC – even the wooden anchor is yet to be discovered.
Two sophisticated and huge side rudders, similar to oars serve to control the vessel. They are made of plantaine timber. The rest of the vessel is made of pine, in lieu of cedar, which is extinct in the Lebanon and under protection on the Turkish Taurus mountains.
Leaking caulking – the ancient mariner had to fight these leaks as much as today’s seamen.
The new meets the old. An Azimuth motor cruiser in the background and a plough anchor next to a stone one.
The “Tabled and Hooked Scarp” or the “Phoenician Scarp” of the Romans, a principal shipbuilding element still today.

“SCARF or SCARPH, the joining of two timbers by beveling off the edges so that the same thickness is maintained throughout the length of the joint. In the construction of a wooden ship, the stem and sternposts are scarfed to the keel. A scarf that embodies a step in the middle of the joint, so preventing the two parts from drawing apart, is called a lock scarf. It is a joint of great antiquity, having been used by the early Egyptian and Phoenician shipbuilders.”


The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, p. 756
Peter Kemp, editor,
Oxford University Press, 1976 and 1988
(as quoted here)