The world’s biggest ancient shipyard has been discovered on the Dana Island, in Turkey.
The shipyard includes nearly 270 slipways that could shed light on the 400-year “Dark Ages” of the Mediterranean over 1,000 years B.C.
The Dana Island was known as the the island of the Denyen to the Sea People and the Hitties. The Denyens were first mentioned by the Hittite King Telipinu around 1,500 B.C.
“The Adania region, which King Telipinu mentioned, is the region of Adana and Mersin today, said Hakan Öniz, the head of Selçuk University’s Underwater Archaeology Department.
“The reason why this era is called the ‘Dark Age’ is that we have limited archaeological information about a period of around 300-400 years. Most probably a big drought, earthquakes or epidemic disease occurred in the 13th century B.C.
We can deduce this from the fact that Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II had to send ships full of grain to the Alexandria region, which is usually productive and suitable for agriculture. Ancient sources suggest there was a famine around this era,” Öniz said.
“Probably the Denyens, together with other groups suffering from the famine, attacked Egypt in order to get grain. Ramses II said the Egyptians defeated the Denyens and he sent the captured Denyens and others to remote regions as soldiers. He pursued the other Denyens to their island in the north and destroyed them there,” he added.
“But this story is not limited to the Deneyns and the Hittites. We know of the existence of the late Hittite kingdoms in the Cilicia region in the Iron Age. We know that they resisted against the New Babylon Kingdom that wanted their iron and grain.
The name of the island became Pitusu in the Iron Age. The King of Babylon Neriglissar described Pitusu as a ‘mountain in the middle of the sea.’ He said he attacked it and 6,000 soldiers on this small island resisted against him. The existence of those 6,000 people reveals that the island continued serving as a shipyard in the Iron Age too,” Öniz said.
Underwater archaeologists have difficulties investigating artifacts discovered in this region due to prohibited areas for diving on the coasts of Mersin, particularly in Silifke.
However, despite limited possibly to investigate the ancient treasures hidden underwater, archaeologists have made one quite extraordinary discovery.
At a depth of 35 meters, they found and iron spur that was used as the weapon of warships in ancient ages. According to scientists, such an iron spur has been found for the first time in the world.
Based on the findings so far, scientists estimate that this is huge shipyard where 274 ships could be built at the same time.
It is very difficult to learn more about the ancient history of the Dana Island because modern law prohibits work or restructuring on the island. This place is now a part of the world heritage.
Nevertheless, scientists still hope they will be able to learn more about the huge shipyard and hopefully date the ancient ships.