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2400-year-old artifacts found in the Black Sea’s first scientific underwater excavation

The first scientific underwater excavation of the Black Sea was carried out in Kerpe Bay.

Dozens of historical artifacts dating from the 4th century BC to the 12th century AD were unearthed.

Kerpe is a small settlement on the western Black Sea coast of Kandıra district of Kocaeli province in northern Turkey.

Kerpe Bay
Kerpe Bay

Kerpe was known as “Kalpe”, which means “pot, jug, jug, jug” in Hellenic language. A commercial center, Kerpe was a stopping point for ships during the Roman, Byzantine and Genoese periods.

Kerpe Bay met Istanbul’s needs such as wood, coal and logs during the Ottoman period.

The remains of the pier belonging to the Ancient Kalpe Harbor were mostly submerged underwater, leading to underwater excavation works initiated in 2020.

2400-year-old artifacts found in the Black Sea's first scientific underwater excavation
Photo: IHA

The excavations are conducted by the Kocaeli Museum Directorate under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums.

The excavation team worked 80 meters away from the shore at a depth of 4 meters to reach the remains scattered over an area of approximately 2,000 square meters.

During the excavations, they unearthed two parts of the ancient pier and numerous remnants of amphorae (two-handled pottery typical of the ancient period) from underwater.

2400-year-old artifacts found in the Black Sea's first scientific underwater excavation
Photo: IHA

These artifacts are being showcased in the Kocaeli Archaeology Museum under the exhibition titled “The Silent Harbor of the Black Sea: Kalpe.”

2400-year-old artifacts found in the Black Sea's first scientific underwater excavation
Photo: IHA

Serkan Gedük, Director of Kocaeli Museum, stated:

“We believe that it is extremely valuable in terms of emphasizing the commercial relations between the east and the west from the Antiquity to the Ottoman period in the Black Sea. Therefore, we are trying to exhibit the cultural assets unearthed during the underwater excavations chronologically and with some animations in our museum. During the excavation works, we have identified many underwater cultural heritages, ranging from commercial amphorae remains dating from the 4th century BC to the 12th century AD, to red-glazed ceramics, lamps, pipe fragments, various cultural assets belonging to the Ottoman period and shipwreck remains that we have detected in the region.”

2400-year-old artifacts found in the Black Sea's first scientific underwater excavation
Kocaeli Archaeology Museum

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