A new milestone in marine archaeology

Excavations conducted between 2005 and 2013 in Yenikapı, Istanbul, reveal invaluable findings that may change the city’s history. The remnants of 37 ships that were discovered form the world’s richest collection of shipwrecks

These remains, which date back some 8,500 years, represent a very rich finding from Istanbul’s Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman days. Following the completion of excavations conducted under the responsibility of the Directorate of Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the museum where these artefacts will be exhibited is expected to be opened in 2019 after its design has been finalised.

Exactly 1,674 years after the dedication of Constantinople as the capital city of the eastern part of the Roman Empire in AD 330, the salvation excavations conducted by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums between 2004 and 2013 in Yenikapı (located within the borders of the Historical Peninsula where Istanbul was founded) are a major archaeological find that could shed light on the city’s ancient history.

Thousands of archaeological artefacts from numerous civilisations dating back from the prehistoric era to the days of Byzantine and Ottoman Empires have been unearthed in the excavations conducted at the construction site where Marmaray’s rail and subway stations will be built.

One of the greatest finds of the excavation is the discovery of the Harbour of Theodosius (Portus Theodosiacus), which was one of the major ports in Constantinople, overlooking the Sea of Marmara. As excavations progressed, the secrets of Yenikapı were revealed, showing details of the daily life, technology, religious beliefs, economy and commerce at the port. In addition to the thousands of archaeological artefacts revealed during the excavations, scientific circles consider the remnants of the 37 ships as the largest collection of medieval shipwrecks

One of the most important projects in recent times

Hidden in these shipwrecks was invaluable information likely to provide insight into the role of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Marine Empire, as a port city, as well as the construction techniques used in this period.

Upon the invitation extended and contributions provided by the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Istanbul University (IU), Faculty of Arts and Literature, Department of Conservation and Restoration of Movable Cultural Heritage was named as one of the teams to conduct the archaeological work on the shipwrecks. Headed by Ufuk Kocabaş, Ph.D., and comprising full-time specialists and graduate students, the academic team from Istanbul University studying the salvaged shipwrecks have carried out the documentation, lifting/salvation, and conservation work since 2005. Scientists working in this field consider these shipwrecks to be the most important projects in recent times, offering unprecedented information on Byzantine ship-building technology, typology, and advances made in this area.

After seven years of field work, the Istanbul University team has succeeded in salvaging intact all the remnants in the region under their responsibility. Istanbul University’s Yenikapı Shipwrecks Research