Published October 16, 2016

Bass Lecture

Prestigious national lecture on underwater archaeology to be given at Monmouth
  • Late ninth- or early tenth-century shipwreck YK 14 during excavation. (Photo: Institute of Nautical Archaeology).
One of the more prestigious lectures in nautical archeology will be given Oct. 20 at Monmouth College.

Michael Jones, a research associate at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, will deliver this year’s George F. Bass Lecture at Monmouth.

Titled “Constantinople’s Theodosian Harbor and the Archaeology of Byzantine Ships,” Jones’ talk will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the Pattee Auditorium of the Center for Science and Business. The talk is free and open to the public.

“Scholars chosen to deliver George F. Bass Lectures are on the cutting edge of the field of nautical archaeology,” said Monmouth Assistant Professor of Classics Bob Simmons. “Dr. Jones continues in the tradition of George Bass in combining top-flight archaeological techniques with contemporary technologies to use the sea-bottom to help tell the story of the distant past.”

Jones’ Oct. 20 talk at Monmouth will explore an important discovery made more than a decade ago off the coast of Turkey.

In spring 2005, Turkish archaeologists excavating in Istanbul’s Yenikapı neighborhood made the discovery in the field of Mediterranean nautical archaeology. The Yenikapı excavation was part of the Marmaray Project, a multi-billion dollar expansion of Istanbul’s public transportation system. It included the construction of subway lines in the city and its suburbs and the Marmaray Tunnel, a rail tunnel under the Bosporus Strait connecting the European and Asian sides of the city.

The archaeological rescue excavation, conducted by the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, uncovered remains from more than 8,000 years of the city’s history, from the Neolithic to late Ottoman periods.

The most significant finds for nautical archaeologists, however, were from the Theodosian Harbor – the largest commercial harbor of Constantinople from the late 4th to 11th centuries A.D.

“In addition to tens of thousands of artifacts, the remains of port installations, and items of ships’ equipment, at least 37 shipwrecks were preserved in the harbor’s anaerobic sediments,” Jones said. “This assemblage is the largest collection of early medieval vessels ever found in the Mediterranean at a single site. They are particularly significant due to the wide range of vessel types represented, including both merchant ships of various sizes and rowed galleys, the first ever found from the Byzantine period.”

Established in 2010 by the Archaeological Institute of America, the lecture series – which has been previously delivered in places such as Houston and Tampa Bay, Fla. – honors Bass, who is considered the father of underwater archaeology.

Widely applauded for his unique contribution to the growing branch of archaeological research, he was commended by President George W. Bush during the National Medal of Science Awards in 2001 for “pioneering ocean technology and creating a new branch of scholarship.”

Jones will also speak at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Augustana College’s Hanson Hall of Science, where he will discuss “The Archaeology of Shipbuilding.” That talk is also free and open to the public.
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