The Hull Remains

Among the most important finds of the Pabuç Burnu shipwreck excavation were the sparse hull remains from the ship, discovered and partially excavated at the end of the 2002 season at the deepest extent of the site (site plan). The primary objective of the 2003 campaign was to search for more hull remains. In total, excavators recovered six fragmentary planks from the ship’s hull (fragment plan). Five of the pieces contain tetrahedral notches and ligature holes along their preserved edges indicating laced construction. lacingholesligholes
Telltale tetrahedral notches (left) and oblique ligature holes (right) line the edges of the planks and indicate that the Pabuç Burnu ship's hull was laced. (Photos: M. Polzer)

Rows of paired holes running transversely across the width of the three largest fragments reveal that ligatures also secured the framing. One fragment may represent the terminus of a strake—the hood end— from one of the ship’s extremities. This and ceramic evidence for the location of the ship's galley, along with their location relative to the hull remains, indicate that the planks come from near the ship's bow (site plan).

The Pabuç Burnu hull is similar to that of several Archaic wrecks excavated in the western Mediterranean that are believed to represent a Greek—and very likely East Greek—boat-building tradition (map). The Pabuç Burnu remains contain several intriguing features that may highlight regional variations within this tradition, or an early adaptation of tenons within Greek hull construction.  Two planks contain small, unpegged tenons in rectangular mortises cut into their preserved edges, whereas two other fragments with oblique, cylindrical dowels inserted into their edges may actually be repair planks.
The hull planking of the Pabuç Burnu ship was aligned with both cylindrical wooden dowels (left) and rectangular tenons (right), widely spaced along the edges of the plank. (Photos by M. Polzer)

The true significance of these remnants is that they provide the first archaeological evidence of laced construction in the Aegean—likely the very region wherein this method developed. Ironically, the replacement of conventional dowel inserts with rectangular tenons on the Pabuç Burnu ship may represent the first step towards the incorporation of mortise-and-tenon joinery into Greek shipbuilding, pointing to a transitional moment away from the laced technique.

m&t Planking fragments recovered from the Pabuç Burnu shipwreck, inboard sides shown. (Photos by A. Oron;
Photomosaics by M. Polzer)


One end of the first hull fragment discovered is seen here, partially exposed on the sea bed.
(Photo by S. Matthews)

raisefrag Robin Piercy excavates the plank.
(Photo by S. Matthews)

prepfrag Robin and Feyyaz Subay secure the plank in its wooden crate, preparing it for raising.
(Photo by S. Matthews)

raisefrag Robin uses a lift bag to raise the hull fragment.
(Photo by S. Matthews)

raisefrag Mark Polzer draws and studies the hull fragments in the Nixon Griffis wood conservation lab.
(Photo by V. Kaya)