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(Courtesy Ankara University Research Center for Maritime Archaeology)

Liman Tepe Harbor
Bay of Izmir, Turkey

The world's oldest wooden anchor is just one discovery made since excavators at Turkey's Liman Tepe, or "harbor mound," turned their attention from land to sea. On the Turkish Aegean coast's Bay of Izmir, Liman Tepe was an important settlement from the Early Bronze Age (third millennium B.C.) to the classical period, when it was the site of the Greek city Klazomenai.

Excavations at the site began in 1979, but in 2000 Ankara University archaeologist Hayat Erkanal and his team began working on a harbor complex buried just off Liman Tepe's coastline. With the help of Israeli archaeologists led by Michael Artzy of Haifa University, the team investigated a 300-foot stone breakwater that formed one of the world's earliest artificial harbors. They also located traces of a pier jutting out from the breakwater, and dug a series of stratified harbor floors, including one dating to the sixth century B.C. where they found the anchor.

"We know the site goes deeper," says Vasif Sahoglu, director of the Ankara University Research Center for Maritime Archaeology. "No one has ever dug a Bronze Age harbor in the Mediterranean before. If we find one at Liman Tepe, it could tell us about how maritime trade was organized in that period. If you consider that only two Bronze Age shipwrecks have ever been investigated, this would be very exciting."

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