Kizilburun Wreck, Extra Credit Lecture

Dr. Carlson’s lecture on the wreck of a cargo ship off the coast of Kizilburun, Turkey provided an interesting snapshot of trade in the Aegean during the 2nd and 1st century BC. This ship was carrying a cargo of eight marble drums and one capital intended for a Doric column. Other marble artifacts included unfinished gravestones and marble hand-baths.

The geological history of the white marble suggests Marmara Island’s quarry as a point of origin. With Marmara Island in northern Turkey as the last loading point for the ship, her course seems to flow around the western shoulder of Turkey to the wreck off the coast of Kizilburun.

While Doric columns are not typical for this time period there is one interesting site where Doric construction seemed to be in progress during the 2nd and 1st century BC. Claros, a city only 40 miles from Kizilburun, was in the process of constructing a Temple to Apollo. Construction appears to have spanned several centuries as resources waxed and waned and this is likely the destination of the ill-fated ship.

Trade is often viewed from the perspective of long distance trade routes. The Kizilburun wreck provides the opportunity to study ancient intra-state trade while focusing on the logistics of employing smaller trade vessels to build grand monuments.

Module 2 - Interest Statement
I would like to research trade in the Aegean, specifically around the island of Thera. I would like to look for archaeological evidence that may support their position as a key player in Minoan trade routes. Also of interest is an analysis of the impact of the volcanic eruption of Thera on these trade routes.

Module 3 - "Netiquette"
I am an anthropology major who plans to pursue graduate degrees in biological anthropology with an emphasis on forensic anthropology. I understand that the sub-field of forensic anthropology is highly competitive and am trying to keep an open mind about other areas in the field of applied biological anthropology. I have also considered spending some time in the Peace Corps between graduate degrees to broaden my perspective.

The Aegean is an area of the world that I have always been interested in. I also have an interest in nautical trade, which fits well with the topic of trade in the Aegean. As noted in my interest statement above, I'm specifically interested in trade around the island of Thera for my wiki project.

Module 4 - Find a Wiki that is relevant to your topic
The above website will link you to the wiki AegeanSeaAndGreekIsles which contains a map of the area I am studying

Module 5 - Image project
  • Satellite image of Thera, November 21, 2000
  • This image of Thera (also known as Santorini) was taken from the website and the source is
  • In the mid second millennium there was a catastrophic volcanic eruption on Thera that destroyed the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri along with many settlements on nearby islands. Surely this must have disrupted trade in this area leading to a change in the route and structure of trade for some time.

Module 6 & 7 - See Links Below
Link to "Piracy Prior to The Golden Age" Wiki
Environmental Impacts on Trade in the Aegean

Module 8 - JSTOR Project
The floodplains along the Nile constitute an important but as yet little utilized series of laboratories for the comparative study of the origins and interaction of ancient civilizations.

Module 9 - Link to a JSTOR Journal
The Thera Ships - Another Interpretation

Module 10 - Research Paragraph &
Module 11 Edit and Re-Write the Paragraph
To understand Thera's role in Aegean trade, a thorough review of the type of goods traded through Thera must be conducted. Chief among these items are the many stone vases which have been excavated at Akratiri. P. Warren (1979) completed such a study and found that the sheer volume of stone vases found on the island exceeded the number found at any site on Crete with the exception of Knossos. Among the many vessels found are stirrup jar which originated in Crete. These jars suggest that Crete's oil trade may have been handled by merchants on Thera. Further supporting the trade between Crete and Thera is the Minoan system of weights and measures used on Thera.

Without the exceptional preservation on Thera, resulting from the sheltering effect of the volcanic ash, students of this period would miss the extraordinary frescoes which support the archaeological evidence. In the frescoes depicted below, the variety of shipping options enjoyed on Thera are seen.

Minoan Miniature Frieze "Flotilla" Fresco
Minoan Miniature Frieze "Flotilla" Fresco

In addition to the connection between Thera and Crete, stone vessels from the Syro-Palestininan area have also been found. Notably absent are Egyptian imports. There has been just one Egyptian vase excavated on Thera, and considering the number of such vases found on Crete it is possible that this one vase came not through direct contact, but through the established Minoan trade. This lack of Egyptian works on Thera begs the question, why? One suggestion is that there was a specialized trade between the Crete and Thera, and that the ability to trade in Egyptian imports was relative to the Minoan palatial power.

Module 12 - Insert a Google File
Below is a map of the Aegean showing the significance of Thera's place in the Cyclades.
Aegean Map

Module 13 - Summarize an Article
Sinking Atlantis, The fall of the Minoans ( is an article posted on the respected Public Broadcasting System (PBS) website referencing an episode which aired on their series “Secrets of the Dead.”

The article covers much of the history of the Minoan culture reflecting on their sophistication and advanced culture. It points to Minoans on Crete and their achievements such as the Linear A text, represented here as the first European written language and credits them with the first construction of paved roads.

Explaining the abrupt demise of this advanced culture the article points to the eruption of the volcano on Thera and subsequent tsunami. Although most of the ash and debris was carried away from Crete, the tsunami created great devastation. In this weakened condition, the Minoans were in no position to defend themselves from attack by the Greek mainland.

Overall the article provided a reasonable representation of the facts, although I believe that there is more evidence for the Sumerian text as the earliest written language.

Module 14 - Summarize an Article
In the Mediterranean, Killer Tsunamis From an Ancient Eruption ( is an article originally printed in The New York Times on November 3, 2009.

This article reviews the recent work by an international team of tsunami research working off Caesarea, Israel. In an effort evaluate the extent of three Mediterranean eruptions, including the Thera eruption, the team looked for pumice, specific patterns of microfossils, and human cultural materials.

Their findings “constituted the most comprehensive evidence to date that the tsunami event precipitated by the eruption of Santorini reached the maximum extent of the Eastern Mediterranean.” This research, which was published in the journal Geology, supported my research showing that the eruption of Thera had far reaching implications for the Aegean and Mediterranean trade routs. Quoting research published in a respected scholarly journal added credibility to the article I felt that it exhibited sound reporting and was quite useful for my wiki.