National Geographic : 1963 Jul
Peter Throckmorton, now a Research As sociate at the University of Pennsylvania Mu seum, had been led to the Bronze Age wreck by Turkish sponge divers in 1958, And it was Peter who had first told me about Yassi Ada. "It's a marine graveyard," said Peter. "More than a dozen ships are scattered over a reef running out from the island." I could see why. Those rocks, waiting only a few feet below the waves, would have been hard to see from ships driven south before the constant meltem. Among the Yassi Ada wrecks, we had de liberately chosen a ship that we thought to date from the seventh century A.D. It would be a link, we hoped, between the older, but better known, Roman ships and the modern wooden craft of the Mediterranean. Coins Pinpoint a Ship's Demise The first indication of our vessel's age came from Virginia Grace, an amphora ex pert working with the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She judged the style of the pottery scattered at the site to be that of the seventh century. Now the coin with the profile of Heraclius assured us that the wreck could not date from earlier than A.D. 610, the year Heraclius came to power. But had that coin already been fading out of circulation when the ship went down? We found more gold coins later on. Each por trayed Heraclius (page 147). Therefore I thought it a safe bet that the wreck dated from Heraclius's reign, the first half of the seventh century. That day on which Wlady found the first coin was typical of our diving operations dur ing the 1961 season, our first summer at Yassi Ada. Wlady and two other divers had spent the night on the barge. He brought up the coin after his first dive of the day, just as the Diver Guides Inflated Cloth Balloon to Send Up a Basketful of Pottery In an artist's conception, the air lift sucks silt to a wire sieve atop a tube anchored by two rock-filled drums and held upright by a buoyant drum near the top. Diver below the scaffold holds the archeologists' "vacuum cleaner." Swimmer at right checks the bag that reclaims any potsherd spewed out by the lift. Cameraman at lower left shoots a picture through the grid from an iron photo tower. Artist in the depths at right sketches six of the ship's anchors. Another diver (top) makes a decompression stop below the work barge on the surface. 145 Neoprene suit protects diver against deep-water cold as he moves a grid up the slope. Ship graveyard edges storm-lashed Yassi Island.