The early 3rd-century B.C. shipwreck at Kyrenia, Cyprus, was excavated in its entirety in 1968–1969 and provided the remains of a well-preserved Mediterranean merchant ship and its cargo. The ship sank in the first decade of the 3rd century B.C (c. 295–285 B.C.), but was built sometime towards the end of the 4th century, between 315 and 305 B.C. The remains of the ship itself include c. 75% of the structural members of its hull, along with elements of its rigging and sail, and fragments of a one-armed wooden anchor with a lead-filled stock.
This project focuses on the study of the thousands of metal fasteners found, mapped, and raised from the site. It will also apply comprehensive analytical approaches for the identification and provenance of all the ship’s preserved metal fasteners.
The methods applied include their recording, identification related to function and material composition, and a metallographic examination of a representative selection of nails. The techniques to analyse the fasteners consist primarily of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) with EDX Analyser to identify the metals and their composition, and Multi-Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (MC-ICPMS) for provenance studies using lead isotope analyses.
The Kyrenia Ship’s assemblage of fasteners includes mostly cupreous ship nails that fastened the frames to the hull planking and other constructional elements of the vessel. In addition, cupreous tacks were found to fasten the ship’s lead sheathing to its hull planking. Other fasteners, found in the ship’s stern cabin, include a sack of miscellaneous small iron nails found as an individual concretion, spare ship nails, and a scatter of iron mushroom-headed nails.
This project aims to reveal for the first time through interdisciplinary study how an archaeological legacy collection, excavated from a shipwreck site in the late 1960s, creates new knowledge and interpretation of culture, procurement of raw materials, and their manufacture into shipbuilding materials. It will provide an insight into the smelting technology used in the production of the fasteners, their manufacture and the technological skills of the people who worked on shipyards when the Kyrenia Ship was built, sailed, repaired, and maintained in the eastern Mediterranean basin.