Hundreds of items from the world’s oldest-known seafaring ship – believed to be from around 1,300 B.C. – discovered off the coast of Turkey and excavated by members of Texas A&M University’s Institute of Nautical Archeology are on display in a first-of-its kind showing at New York City’s legendary Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The exhibit, “Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C . ,” displays priceless items that represent a time capsule of Bronze Age art and culture and are on view in the United States for the first time, says George Bass, Texas A&M professor emeritus of nautical archeology who helped catalog and archive many of the artifacts.
The more than 350 items retrieved from the wreck – often referred to as the Uluburun, because it was in that region of southern Turkey where it was found in about 140 feet of water – show the intricate art work of some of the world’s earliest civilizations. The ship was carrying a full cargo, and Bass says it’s believed the items came from Africa, Syria , Cyprus , Greece , northern Europe and other areas.
“It (the shipwreck) was true globalization in its earliest form,” he explains.
“We think this is the oldest seafaring ship ever discovered and it had a rich and varied cargo like none other. Many of the items are one-of-a kind, such as one of the earliest known books ever recorded.”
Other rare items include ornate jewelry, wood carvings, metal sculptures, ivory art work, pottery, glass beads, gold and silver ingots and other works from the Bronze Age (2200 to 800 B.C. and so named for an alloy of tin and copper essential for the advancement of technology at the time).
Discovered by a sponge diver in 1982, the shipwreck presented formidable challenges. Because of the tilt of the ship and its immense cargo, it took more than 22,000 dives to retrieve most of the artifacts, Bass says, requiring about 10 years to complete the excavation process.
“It’s a tremendous honor for Texas A&M to be associated with this exhibit,” Bass adds.
“These objects are on loan from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and are being shown for the first time here in the United States . Anyone who appreciates art or history would find this exhibit fascinating.”
The exhibit runs through March 15 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more information, go to www.metmuseum.org
Contact: George Bass at (979) 693-6546 or Keith Randall at (979) 845-4644 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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