The Kyrenia ship
is the wreck of a 4th century BC Greek merchant ship. It was discovered by Greek-Cypriot diving instructor Andreas Cariolou in November 1965 during a storm. Having lost the exact position Cariolou carried out more than 200 dives until he re-discovered the wreck in 1967 close to Kyrenia
. Michael Katzev, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
, directed a salvage expedition from 1967-69. Preservation of the ship's timbers continued during the winter of 1970. Katzev later was a co-founder of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology
. The find was extensively covered in a documentary by the National Geographic Society
. It is the only preserved ship from Greece
's Classical Age
. The ship was considered to be very well preserved with approximately 75% of it in good condition. It found a new home at the Ancient Shipwreck Museum
in Kyrenia Castle
, where it remains on exhibit.
The ship sailed in the Mediterranean
during the life time of Alexander the Great
and his successors. She sank in open waters less than a mile from the anchorage of Kyrenia. The evidence point to her being taken by rough seas around the year 300 BC
, when she was rather old, though piracy is becoming more likely.
The sinking of the Kyrenia could have been caused by many factors, but evidence suggests that piracy and old age could have all contributed to the shipís fate.
Archaeologists found spear points in the hull.
While these could very well be used for the protection of the crew, rubber casts indicate that they were in contact with the lead sheathing covering the ship.
This would suggest that the points were stuck inside the hull when it sank - possible evidence of an attack.
In typical merchant ships the captain would have a balance, weights, and coinage for measuring and trading goods- all of which were missing
. Even more surprising is that over a ton of cargo is absent from the wreckage.
This leads researchers to believe that the ship must have been plundered at some point. What opens up this argument further is the presence of a curse tablet in the wreckage.
. A pirate, for example, would hammer the lead tablet to a part of the boat as it sank in hopes that the dark magic the tablet evoked would conceal the evidence of their crime.
These facts, taken together, lead many to believe that piracy played a part in the vessel's sinking.
The ship was in use by merchants for 15Ė25 years
. Knowing that the ship was old, archaeologists could use the repairs on the Kyrenia to better understand classical carpentry. The hullís age increased the need for the defense against water loss, so any repairs would give very specific evidence to the problems facing ancient ships. A break in the shipís keel was fixed, and the outside of the ship was protected with pitch and lead sheathing
. These measures were taken to extend the shipís lifespan. Closer analysis of the rabbets in the hullís frame suggest that the mast step had been moved up to three, and possibly four times
. This movement happens to be in close proximity with a well to collect bilge water
. Because of this, archaeologists surmise that the movement of the mast step was to make way for a larger bilge pump, capable of dealing with the greater needs of the aging ship
. The extreme measures to deal with water infiltration corroborate the frailty of this ship, which very likely contributed to the shipís sinking.
All these factors could have worked together to cause the sinking. The definitive answer cannot be known completely, but the ship is still important to scholars. The hullís near-complete preservation, along with the extent of its reconstruction, adds to our knowledge concerning ship building in antiquity.
Michael Katzev of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology was directing a team to survey the coast of Cyprus for shipwrecks in 1967 when a sponge diver took the team to the site. Using a metal detector, protonmagnetometer and probes, the group spent a month surveying the site to find the ship and the cargo over an area measuring 60 ◊ 30 feet (9.1 m). During the summers of 1968 and 1969 the expedition consisting of 50 underwater archaeologists, students and technicians employed stereo-photography and other developed techniques to record the position of each object before it was raised. Then the ship's wooden hull which was well preserved in the sand mud was "mapped", labeled and lifted in pieces to the surface.
The objects in Kyrenia Castle are the original ones that she carried during her last voyage about 2300 years ago. From them we can learn about the life of those traders. More than 400 wine amphoras, mostly made in Rhodes
, constitute the main cargo and they indicate that the ship made an important stop at that island.
Ten distinct amphora shapes on board suggest other ports of call, such as Samos in the north. Another part of the cargo of the ship was perfectly preserved almonds, 9000 in number, that were found in jars and also within the ship's hull. The 29 millstones, laden on over the keel in three rows cargo, but at the same time served as ballast. At the stone quarry, probably on the island of Kos
, masons carved letters of identification on the sides of these stones. All these bits of evidence suggest that the ship sailed southwards along the coast of Anatolia
, calling at Samos
before continuing eastwards to her destruction in Cyprus.
That the sailors fished during the voyage is clear from the more than 300 lead net weights found in the bow. Meals were probably prepared ashore, using a large casserole pot and a bronze cauldron. Four wooden spoons, four oil jugs, four salt dishes and four drinking cups recovered in the shipwreck suggest that her crew on her last voyage consisted of four seamen.
The ship's single sail had been taken down before she sank as the stern contained more than 100 lead rigging rings from a large square sail stowed there. The wooden hull, built mostly of Aleppo pine, was preserved for a length of almost 40 feet (12 m), originally measured 47 feet (14 m) long by 14Ĺ across. The ship was built in the "shell first" manner, quite the opposite of today's method. Rather than building a skeleton of ribs first, her outer planking up from the keel was constructed and then the ribs were laid in and these were secured with copper spikes. The ship was intended for long service and underwent many repairs. In the last repair her owner(s) had a skin of lead sheathing applied to her body to keep the old ship waterproof. Carbon 14 dating of the ship's planks gives a date of 389 BC (plus or minus 44 years). Carbon 14 dating of the almonds points to a date of 288 BC (plus or minus 62 years). Hence the ship was probably more than 80 years old the day she sank.
Preservation and conservation of the ship began in 1970 and lasted four years. The Turkish Invasion in Cyprus
in 1974 interrupted the work.