Abstract: Catch as Catch Can: Life Aboard the Tektaş Burnu Ship


In this lecture I will reconstruct shipboard activity and use of space as evidenced by the materials recovered from the late fifth-century BCE ship that wrecked at the Tektaş Burnu, Turkey. Archaeological excavations of ancient ships continue to bring to light a myriad of new information about maritime trade and technology, and yet our understanding of life aboard these ships remains incomplete. This lecture will synthesize the scattered textual evidence for shipboard life with the physical evidence from the Tektaş Burnu ship and attempt to decipher what shipboard materials can—and cannot—tell us about life aboard this ancient merchant ship.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

For those interested in underwater archaeology more broadly, the popular books by George F. Bass are a great place to start (Archaeology Beneath the Sea and Beneath the Seven Seas).

Lionel Casson’s Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (1995) offers detailed discussion of ancient ships and sailing.

For the information about the Tektaş Burnu shipwreck excavation, see the project website (http://nauticalarch.org/Tektasburnu/) and excavation director Dr. Deborah N. Carlson’s AJA article: “The Classical Greek Shipwreck at Tektaş Burnu, Turkey,” in AJA 107.3 (Oct., 2003) 581-600.

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