Between Continents: proceedings of the twelfth symposium on boat and ship archaeology, Istanbul 2009 edited by Nergis Günsenin (ed.) 342 pp., fully illustrated in colour and b&w University of Istanbul via Zero Books, Kalio Mustafa Celebi Mahallesj, Abdullah Sokak no. 17, Beyoğlu Istanbul 34433 Turkey, 2012, €99 (hbk), ISBN 978-6054701025
Article first published online: 4 FEB 2013
© 2013 The Authors. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology © 2013 The Nautical Archaeology Society
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology
Volume 42, Issue 1, pages 209–211, March 2013
How to Cite
Pomey, P. (2013), Between Continents: proceedings of the twelfth symposium on boat and ship archaeology, Istanbul 2009 edited by Nergis Günsenin (ed.) 342 pp., fully illustrated in colour and b&w University of Istanbul via Zero Books, Kalio Mustafa Celebi Mahallesj, Abdullah Sokak no. 17, Beyoğlu Istanbul 34433 Turkey, 2012, €99 (hbk), ISBN 978-6054701025. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 42: 209–211. doi: 10.1111/1095-9270.12008
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 4 FEB 2013
The publication of the proceedings of the International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology (ISBSA) is always an event eagerly awaited. This symposium is in fact the only international event in the field of boat and ship archaeology, and every three years provides a review of the discipline, the state of research and new discoveries. The proceedings of the 12th symposium edited by Nergis Günsenin are no exception and bring together, in addition to the keynote address, 47 papers from 21 different countries belonging, albeit unevenly, to the five continents, and so reflect the gradual expansion of the increasingly international discipline.
Held in Istanbul under the highly symbolic title Between Continents the ISBSA 12 publication acknowledges the very first scientific underwater excavations in nautical archaeology that took place in Turkey at Cape Gelidonya and Yassıada as G. F. Bass recalled in his opening address, and the latest exceptional discoveries of the Yenikapı wrecks in Istanbul's Byzantine port. An entire section of the work is devoted to the latter discoveries. The duality implied in the title illustrates a major development in the discipline: the increasingly important role of wreck excavations on land, often as rescue operations, today stands alongside underwater excavations (recoveries and research). Indeed, from the ancient Greek wrecks of Place Jules-Verne in Marseille to the Byzantine wrecks of Yenikapı in Istanbul, land excavations have in recent years brought major contributions to nautical archaeology. This reflects the maturity of the discipline and better standing of ship archaeology which is no longer confined to the single field of activity of underwater archaeology.
The Proceedings are divided into eight sections. The first includes papers concerning current research in the Mediterranean: from an underwater survey of the maritime heritage on the coast of Kaş (G. and A. Varinlioğlu Denel) to the study of modern wrecks such as the 16th-century wreck of the island of Mljet in Croatia (I. Mihajlović, I. Miholjek and M. Pešić) and that of Akko I in Israel (D. Cvikel). The concept of ‘Mediterranean’ is taken here in a broad sense as one of the papers concerns the Red Sea and the remains of Pharaonic ships (c.2000 BC) from Ayn Sukhna (P. Pomey). Discussion of vessels of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age is dominant in this section and several discoveries are of great interest for the early history of ship architecture. Besides the ship remains from Ayn Sukhna, which illuminate our knowledge of the construction of seagoing vessels and the organization of maritime expeditions to Sinai at the time of the Middle Kingdom, there is a report of the discovery, still on land, at Mitrou in Greece, of a boat dated c.1900 BC derived from an expanded logboat (A. van de Moortel). The hope is that the excavation of the Phoenician shipwreck from the end of the 7th century BC at Bajo de la Campana, Spain (M. E. Polzer) can provide new data on Phoenician ship construction that remains little known despite its considerable importance. If the analysis of the hull remains of the Kızılburun ‘column wreck’ (J. D. Littlefield) shows no fundamental difference from the construction of other merchant ships from the same time (late 1st c. BC), the study of the wreck Tantura E, Israel, dated between the 7th and 9th century AD (E. Israeli, Y. Kahanov), reconfirms the importance of the Dor site in the study of naval architecture at the end of Antiquity and the beginning of the Byzantine period, having a construction based on frames in the local early Islamic period.
The second section deals with new research in Northern Europe. It opens with the study of the Skaftö wreck, Sweden, corresponding to a large clinker-built cargo vessel of the 15th century, relatively well preserved, which could be a late medieval ‘hulk’ (S. von Arbin) and the impressive discovery of 15 Nordic clinker-built boats from the 16th and 17th centuries in the city centre of Oslo, Norway (J. Gundersen). The rescue operation, dubbed ‘Barcode’, once again confirms the exceptional richness of naval archaeology on land. On the other hand, the rediscovery of the Swedish Prinsessan Hedvig Sophia in the Baltic Sea near Kiel, Germany (J. Auer, M. Segscheider) and the investigation of the wreck-site of the 18th-century Russian warship St. Alexander near the Tarkhankutski lighthouse in Ukraine's Crimea (O. A. Zolotarev, V. D. Kobets) appear more conventional; as does the serious task of identifying the 18th-century shipwreck W-27, located off Gdansk, Poland, based on archival sources which indicate a kuff or galliot-type vessel.
The third section is entirely devoted, quite rightly, to the Byzantine ships at Yenikapı, Istanbul. After Nergis Güsenin's historical recall of the city harbours from Antiquity through Medieval times, there is an overall presentation by U. Kocabaş of the 36 shipwrecks dated to the 5th–10th centuries AD, discovered in the Theodosian harbour of Constantinople. Two of these wrecks, Yenikapı 12 and 17, are the subject of a special presentation. The first corresponds to a small cargo vessel dated to the 9th century AD, built in a mixed mode based on a bottom shell (I. Özsait Kocabaş). In contrast, the second wreck, from the 8th–9th centuries, is an early example of a frame-based construction (E. Türkmenoğlu). According to U. Kocabaş, most of Yenikapı wrecks are built using a mixed process as seen in YK 12, while YK 17 shows that the transition toward a frame-based construction is already accomplished. Comparing the Yenikapı and Dor wrecks, one realizes that the process of transition in Mediterranean shipbuilding from shell-based to frame-based construction was certainly complex, non-linear and progressed from different sources. Lastly and quite logically, the section on Byzantine wrecks ends with a study of the ethnicity and sphere of activity of the crew of the 11th-century Serçe Limanı ship, leading F. H. van Doorninck to propose an origin in the Levant.
The fourth and fifth sections are extensions of the previous one. They mainly concern the Black Sea and the Ottoman shipbuilding. However, two papers deal with general considerations about ships and seafaring in the Ancient Mediterranean. The first considers ships carrying marble (C. Beltrame and V. Vittorio), a subject already addressed through discussion of the Kızılburun wreck—the conclusions of which are highly speculative given the lack of archaeological data. The second paper investigates the activity of eastern naukleroi in the western province of the Roman Empire which was dominated by the western navicularii (Th. Schmidts). The Black Sea naturally takes an important position through iconographic studies of Byzantine ship graffiti in the Kilise Mescidi (Mesdjid chapel) of Amasra (K. Damianidis), the graffiti of Hagia Sophia at Trebizond (Trabzon) (L. Basch) and on the illustration of the Codex 5 of ‘The romance of Alexander the Great’ in the Hellenic Institute of Venice which tells of the galley of the 14th-century fleet from the Black Sea (Y. D. Nakas). Two other papers focus on traditional shipbuilding of the Black Sea through the study of the famous Inebolu boat which is a last surviving ‘shell-first’ construction found on the western Black Sea coast of Anatolia (H. Çoban) and the reconstruction of a Black Sea Ottoman merchantman from the Kitten shipwreck (K. N. Batchvarov). All these studies show the originality of the Black Sea and its role in preserving nautical traditions. Finally, two papers deal with the dockyards of the Ottoman period: one about anchor manufacture (Y. A. Aydin), the other about the activity during the 19th century of the Tîr-i güverte as a branch of the imperial dockyard (M. Ünver).
Various topics are covered in the sixth section under the title ‘Ship Building’. Several papers relate to research in rivers and inland waterways. In France, two studies concern Gallo-Roman wrecks of the 1st century AD: the Saint-Georges 8 wreck which corresponds to a ferry or a lighter from the river Saône (M. Guyon and E. Rieth), and the Arles-Rhône 3 which is a river barge with some Mediterranean influences (S. Marlier, S. Greck, F. Guibal, V. Andrieu-Pomel); a third paper is related to the 15th-century EP1 Canche wreck (North of France) of a fluvio-maritime coaster in the cog tradition (E. Rieth). In Poland, W. Ossowski considers the inland waterways of the Vistula and Oder from the 16th to 18th century (W. Ossowski). Three other papers provide an overview of the diversity of shipbuilding traditions, with a Mediterranean example from the archive study of a Genoese trading ship from 1202 (F. Ciciliot), an Irish Sea example of the 16th-century wreck of the seagoing clinker-built Drogheda Boat (H. Schweitzer) and an example of Iberian-Atlantic tradition, the 16–17th-century wreck of Arade 1 in Portugal (V. Loureiro). A paper on the use of pine sheathing on Dutch East India company ships (W. van Duivenvoorde) ends this section.
The final seventh and eighth sections include experimental archaeology and research methods which are always a good barometer of the vitality of the discipline and its future. Here ISBSA 12 was particularly rich and promising. Papers on reconstructions and trial sailing were focused on: Min of the Desert, a floating hypothesis of an ancient Egyptian boat which confirms the capacity of the ancient Egyptians to make long-distance sea voyages (C. Ward, P. Couser, D. Vann, T. Vosmer and M. Abd-el-Maguid); Jewel of Muscat, a 9th-century sewn-plank boat based on the Belitung wreck (Indonesia) sailing with success the ancient maritime Silk Route (T. Vosmer); Sea Stallion from Glendalough, the sailing replica of the 11th century Viking longship Skuldelev 2 which sails, sometimes in extreme sea conditions, from Roskilde (Denmark) to Dublin (Ireland) passing by the north route and from Dublin back to Roskilde by the south route through the Channel (S. Nielsen); analysis of travel speeds of several trial voyages of Viking sailing replicas (A. Engert); several experimental sailings along the waterway from the Varangians in Sweden to the Byzantine Greeks in Istanbul (P. E. Sorokin); and a 17th-century Taiwanese junk, a hypothetical reconstruction that had not sailed at the time of the conference (J.-H. Chen). That is a very wide range of ship replicas with differing origins, dates and construction methods. Most of these are based on precise archaeological data, or scientifically based hypotheses, where fantasy has no place.
Lastly, the research methods focused on the problems of excavation strategy through the example of the emergency rescue of 15 wrecks found in the Oslo harbour (H. Vangstad) and the approaches to the well-preserved Baltic Sea shipwrecks (N. Eriksson and P. Höglund) and, secondly, on the post-excavation recording systems and hull-reconstruction methods used in Roskilde, Denmark (M. Ravn), on the Oseberg ship, Norway (V. Bischoff), on the Newport medieval ship, Wales (N. Nayling and T. Jones), and, in France, on the Dramont E shipwreck (P. Poveda). It appears that the new recording methods coupled with computer 3D reconstruction offer particularly promising prospects for future research in this field.
Let us add, finally, that the book is richly illustrated, remarkably well edited under Nergis Günsenin's care, and follows the usual layout of ISBSA proceedings.
In total, the ISBSA 12 proceedings Between Continents, according to a now well-established tradition, is the most current reference work in the field of boat and ship archaeology. Wealth, interest and the variety of communications offer a comprehensive perspective on new discoveries, research in progress, research perspectives and methodological reflections, and, more generally, on the evolution of the discipline. In this respect, this volume is indicative of the development of nautical archaeology which regularly expands its field of study to take into account more systematic study of the ship whatever its context and chronological origin or geography. This book is absolutely essential for anyone interested in boat and ship archaeology but also has its place in all archaeological libraries, given the increasing universal status of by nautical archaeology.