Yenikapı wrecks in safe hands

Yenikapı shipwrecks are in good hands: Scientists continue to work on 27 shipwrecks in the laboratory in Yenikapı, which was founded by Istanbul University.

Approximately 1500 annals from Yenikapı excavations are kept in ponds for conservation. Scientists work on a full 27 shipwreck in the laboratory at Yenikapı, which was established by Istanbul University in the sponsorship of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. The wooden ships that are conserved to be exhibited in the museum are the largest shipwreck fleet of the world.

Yenikapı Metro and Marmaray excavations began in 2004. In the excavations that attracted the attention of the whole world, the Neolithic finds led the history of Istanbul back to the 2000 year. 8500 annual finds such as tombs, footprints, canoeing, and spoons of the first Istanbulites had great repercussions. The wrecks of Istanbul's ancient port of Theodosius were of great importance for the history of underwater archeology. After the first wreck found in 2005 full 36 was removed from the wreck. Some were found with loads. The galleys known as the battleship of the period excited the world of science. Amphoras, anchors and ropes were found together with the material. The world of science has become vigilant. The most important shipwreck collection of the Byzantine period came from under the soil.


The wrecks, which we call perfectly intact, actually only gave pictures in the soil. When you touch the huge planks that make up the hull of the ship, it was no different from paper. The archeology of our country was not very knowledgeable about wrecks and conservation. Head of Istanbul University Faculty of Literature Department of Conservation and Restoration of Portable Cultural Property Prof. Dr. Ufuk Kocabaş agreed to do the scientific removal and conservation work of the shipwrecks upon the invitation of the Istanbul Archeology Museums Directorate. Kocabaş toured underwater archeology teams around the world who are experts on Viking shipwrecks, and examined both the lifting and conservation phases. Cemal Pulak of the Marine Archeology Institute of Texas A&M University in the USA undertook the scientific conservation of some of the shipwrecks.


As the archaeologists excavated, the number of wrecks increased. Total 37 shipwreck output. The rail system project was sad, archaeologists were happy. All of them were taken from the land with great care and taken to the pools filled with chemical medicated water. 2 storey conservation laboratory was established next to Yenikapı station. On behalf of Istanbul University Kocabas started both the documentation and repair process in the laboratory. After completing the conservation of ships, scientific studies were accelerated in order to make it possible to be exhibited in the Yenikapı Museum.


For thousands of years, wood materials under the soil have been removed from chemical ponds and digital documentation studies are carried out. Every piece of wood in the shipwreck is transferred to my digital site in 3 format. During this documentation, every detail is recorded, such as nails, ax cut marks and knots on the wood. Then the wood material is freeze dried for drying. When the normal drying method of water is made in the wood, the material becomes smaller, curved and irreversibly deformed. Although it is expensive for the freeze drying method used to prevent this, the IMM was convinced and it was provided. If a museum is set up today, a shipwreck can be exhibited immediately.


Since the wood was kept in pools filled with water, the mosquito problem was great especially in the summer. Chemical pesticides were used for outdoor ponds, but the use of medication in ponds in the lab where they kept their wood material threatened the health of workers. Professor Kocabaş remembered the Japanese fish used in Denmark for other purposes. He used Japanese fish in the pools. The result was perfect. The fish eats mosquito larvae and prevent them from reproduction. Fish had both fun and saved employees from a great trouble.


Yenikapı archeology excavations are over. Outstanding results were obtained. Thousands of artifacts have been removed from museum stores. The scientific conservation of the shipwrecks continues rapidly. Beside the station there is also a very wide supply. Now, the button for the Yenikapı Museum should be pushed and the works that were found as soon as possible should be met with the public and the scientific world. He is currently working on behalf of Istanbul University including Istanbul Archaeological Museums. Dr. Ufuk Kocabas and his team, Assoc. Dr. Cemal Pulak, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality deserves the thanks for their contributions.

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