BODRUM UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM
I Georgios am the captain of this ship belonging to the Church and priest in that same
Church. We set sail from the island of Samos for the Eastern Mediterranean hearing
provisions needed by the imperial army warring against the Persians... There are six of us
on this journey: I the captain Georgios, Demetrios the helmsman, John the navigator, Leon
the joiner and seaman, Leons son Michael and our cook Paul. Our ship is 20 metres in
length, 5 meters wide and can carry a cargo of 60 tons... We set sail at daybreak
yesterday. The sea was calm as we sailed south from Samos under a light northerly breeze.
I planned to reach the harbour at Halicarnassos by nightfall. As we approached Myndos I
decided to shorten our journey by taking the narrow channel between the islands. I had
passed through here without heeding the danger many times before, but this time God was
not on our side and a strong westerly wind prevented us bearing round Lodo (Yassıada)
near Myndos. We were swept onto the rocks at the western end of the island and wrecked.
Before we could unload a single piece of iron the ship sank in 32 feet of water. Thanks be
to God all of us were saved. Only Pauls leg was broken. We are praying for rescue. We
spent the night on Lodo, and the cold wind froze us to the marrow.
logbook of Georgios Naukleros Presbiteros, captain of the Eastern Roman ship which sank
off Yassıada 1370 years ago had survived, it would probably have revealed a story
something like this reconstruction of events penned by Bodrum Museum of Underwater
Archaeology director, Oğuz Alpözen. He has based the story on findings from the
shipwreck, which he excavated in 1961-64. The amphoras, lamps, carpentry tools, scales and
weights discovered at the wreck site are now exhibited at the Museum of Underwater
Archaeology in Bodrum, together with a full scale model of the ships hull.
Bodrum Castle is the most eyecatching feature of Turkeys most popular resort, but as
well as symbolising this picturesque Aegean town with its whitewashed houses swathed in
bougainvillea and narrow streets, the castle houses a unique museum. The museum is not
only noted for the priceless exhibits themselves, but for the striking layout which makes
a visit here so memorable.
is more the attractive gardens within the castle walls filled with local flowers and trees
are the perfect retreat from the noon heat and crowded streets of Bodrum.
As you enter the castle you encounter two local celebrities, Herodotus, the father of history and the modern
Turkish poet and writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı. Their busts stand at the gate. Within
you find the worlds largest collection of amphoras, which were used in the thriving
trade of the Aegean and Mediterranean for carrying various different commodities. The
collection begins with the earliest amphora dating from the 14th century BC and goes up to
an earthenware water jug made in 1992. Information panels and illustrations explain what
the amphoras held, how they were transported and packed on board ship, and other details.
They are exhibited under a lean-to roof in the lower courtyard, where there is also a
Mediaeval Grocery Shop selling herbs teas, perfumes, oils, natural soap and handmade
pottery. Another interesting place to visit here is the castle chapel which was later
converted into a mosque. There are inscriptions on the walls, and the 1/1 scale model of
the Byzantine ship mentioned above. Next to the chapel is a Turkish bath
dating from 1895, with the typical domed roof pierced by circular lights and traditional
washbasins around the walls. One of the most spectacular parts of the Underwater
Archaeology Museum is the Glass Gallery containing the worlds finest collection of
mediaeval Islamic glassware recovered from a shipwreck in the area. Each piece is
exhibited to maximum effect, lit from below in the half-darkness to reveal the different
colours of the glass. In the same section is an aquarium illustrating the tools and
methods used for underwater excavations.
Back on land we come to the Gallery of the Carian Princess, appropriately designed in
the form of a ceremonial room of the Carian period. Here the sarcophagus of Queen Ada, who loved Alexander the
Great like her own son. Queen Ada died at the age of around 40 and was buried with her
jewellery. Examination of the skull by scientists at Manchester University in England has
enabled a reconstruction of the queens face to be made, and she awaits visitors dressed
in her best clothes.
The English Tower is another section of Bodrum Castle which should not be missed.
Constructed in 1415, it was restored in 1980 and now houses a striking example of modern
museology. Illuminated by candlelight as it would have been in the past, the room contains
a collection of swords, flags and armour. Mediaeval music played by a musician in one corner completes the atmosphere.
The tower itself is regarded as the most important surviving monument constructed by the
British outside the British Isles.
In the courtyard around the tower is another building now in the process of restoration
to house the worlds oldest shipwreck excavated by Prof. Dr. George F. Bass and Dr.
Cemal Pulak. This three thousand year old ship found at Uluburun was carrying gifts from
the Egyptian pharaoh to the Hittite emperor.
Bodrum Castle was built in the 15th century by the Knights of St. John over the remains
of an earlier Byzantine and Turkish castle. It has been a museum since 1964, and in 1995
was rated one of the best nine museums in Europe.
Much more could be said about it, but seeing it for yourself is far better. No museum
so well brings alive a past when the Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks, Romans, Seljuks, Arabs
and other peoples traded far and wide across the Mediterranean.
- By Adnan Bostancıoğlu