National Geographic has an interesting story on a ~2,000 year old shipwreck off the coast of Kızılburun, Turkey. Among the cargo was a Doric column – well pieces thereof because columns were built in pieces – and part of the interest in the story is in figuring out the final destination of the Doric column. Equally of interest are some of the things being learned about the making of the column. It was quarried in Marmara Island.
The quarry site was identified via its color and through stable isotope analysis (woot! Is there anything stable isotope analysis can’t be used for? Well, yes, but it’s still cool). This is the neat part:
The fact that these column pieces were cut to the right size for the Temple of Apollo at Claros suggests that the ancient Marmara quarry was filling custom orders. That’s something archaeologists hadn’t previously had evidence of in ancient temples.
“I would say there’s a good chance the architects had gone to the quarry and talked to the workmen there,” Fant says. “Or even sent a crew to shape the blocks. That’s why this is really neat.”
Of course the column never arrived and the temple, for unknown reasons, was never completed. National Geographic ends the piece with this evocative paragraph:
So the masons in Claros knew just what they were getting, and what they were planning to do with it. But they didn’t know their stones would never arrive. Perhaps bad weather doomed the ship; perhaps something else. Some 2,000 years later, the stones are still at the bottom of the sea off Kızılburun cape, just 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the temple for which they were intended. “I don’t think you could actually see Kızılburun from Claros, but it’s close,” Carlson says. For the builders waiting at the site, “That must have been a real heartbreak.”
There is a Kızılburun website for those interested in learning more.
Filed under: Aegean Archaeology