Voyage of a Thousand Wonders: What we learn from an ancient shipwreck

AIA-Houston Society inaugurates the George Bass Lecture series on underwater archaeology on April 14 at the Museum of Fine Arts. The Brown theater was full to capacity, and even though I wouldn’t know the cream of Turkish Society in Houston if I crashed into them, I’m sure they were there! Dr. Bass was introduced by the Turkish Consul, and it was a pleasure to see him looking quite spry. (And he spoke very briefly—that’s always a pleasure!)

Just a few of the thousands of artifacts recovered from the Uluburun shipwreck


Dr. Cemal Pulak of Texas A&M presented the evening’s talk: Voyage of a Thousand Wonders—a Bronze Age Shipwreck. The first few minutes of his talk made me want to pull out my credit card and book a flight to Turkey. The pictures he showed of the Grand Cape (Uluburun) were spectacular, and while he made light of the makeshift headquarters that were used during the excavation and clung precariously to the face of a steep cliff, I could hardly imagine a more beautiful place to spend the summer! (Ignore the fact that I’m not too hot about diving in the ocean; I still would love to go to that exact spot!) 

Archaeologist/diver uncovering historical treasures from the Uluburun wreck

As with the extraordinarily accurate dating of the mast of the Viking ship that we learned about in February, I was once again amazed at how precisely the archaeologists can date this shipwreck: 1320 BCE give or take 15 years. I was also struck by the amazing amount of artifacts recovered from the shipwreck site and their wide ranging provenance from all over the Mediterranean world: Mycenae, Canaan, Egypt, Cyprus.  

One of the many ingots found in the Uluburun shipwreck

Proving once again that archaeology shows how we are all connected and have been for millennia.