Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology
The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which received a special commendation in 1995 as a European Museum of the Year, was established in the Bodrum Castle in 1964. Initially, the restoration of the castle was the priority; later, exhibition halls were created in the available space. The museum exhibits several collections of ancient artifacts including relics retrieved from local shipwrecks, divided over 14 exhibition departments in the museum. Many of the items found in the museums can be touched, feeled and read about by visiting tourists. Each shipwreck found in the museum takes it’s name from the area that they were found, the items that these ships were carrying can be seen in the display cabinets. Although the castle is under the auspices of the Turkish Ministry of Culture, all the museum exhibitions are overseen by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, an American non-profit organization with bases both in Bodrum and Texas, United States of America.
The 14 departments in the museum :
- Carian Princess Hall
- Amphoras Exhibition
- The Dungeon
- British Tower
- German Tower
- Snake Tower (secret museum)
- Turkish Bath Exhibition
- Glass Wreck Hall
- Glass Hall
- Tektaş shipwreck
- LateRoman shipwreck
- Kaş-Ulu Burun shipwreck
- Commander Tower
- Coins and Jewellery Hall
The biggest group of artifacts on display in the museum are the amphoras, two-handled and portable jugs with a pointed bottom which were used in the commerce of ancient times to carry and store wine, olive oil and dry foodstuff. The world’s biggest Eastern Mediterranean Amphora collection can be found in Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum.
The Bronze Age Shipwrecks exhibit displays interesting findings recovered from sunken trading vessels discovered by local sponge divers. The artifacts, from the 13th and 16th century B.C., are indispensable for understanding the late Bronze Age. Also on display is the world’s oldest known shipwreck, also one of the richest finds, discovered at Ulu Burun in 1982. The explorations took 10 years due to the depth of the wreck, the stern being at 147 feet (45 metres) and the bow at 170 feet (52 metres), although it was only 207 feet (63 metres) from the shore. Many of the artefacts needed to be chiselled out by hand due to the layer of concretion that covered the site. The boat used Greco-Roman techniques of building the shell first and then fitting the frame to it. The Ulu Burun shipwreck contained a cargo of treasures, including precious gems, exotic wooden logs, hippopotamus ivory and more than 150 pure-thin, resin, cobalt blue, turquoise and lavender-colored flat, round glass ingots. In addition to Canaanite gold jewelry, one amazing find was a solid gold scarab (these scarabs were carried by sailors for good luck) attributed in hieroglyphics to one-time owner Nefertiti, the Egyptian Queen.
Usually, archaeologists can reassemble an object from broken pieces of glass, because many of the object’s pieces are most of the time found in the same place. This is not the issue in the Glass Wreck Hall, opened in 1986, which contains piles of recovered glass that defy this theory. Archaeologists assumed that the ship was actually transporting broken glass as cargo for recycling. This magnificent collection of old Islamic glass is indispensable in dating similar artifacts from other medieval Islamic archeologic sites. The Carian Princess Hall (also known as Queen Ada Hall), displays the tomb of what is believed to be Queen Ada, a well known Hellenistic ruler of Halicarnassus, along with a golden crown and a few glass cases of other precious jewelry.
The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is perhaps Bodrum’s finest attraction. With the added mystique of the Knights of St. John who built the castle housing the museum, visitors to Bodrum seldom – if ever – fail to pay it a highly rewarding visit. The combined efforts of the Turkish ministry of Culture, local Bodrum sponge divers and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology have created and continually support the ongoing efforts to present and preserve the past treasures of the deep blue sea.
Admission 10 TL – Opening hours of the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology :
between 09:00 am 12:00 am and 02:00 pm and 07:00 pm – closed on Mondays. Phone : 0252-316 2516