Reconstructing Bronze Age maritime networks: A new provenance study of stone anchors from Israel and Cyprus

Assaf Yasur-Landau, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Carrie Fulton and Sturt Manning

The study of Bronze Age stone anchors was at the heart of Honor Frost’s contribution to maritime archaeology. The aim of this proposed two and a half years study is to significantly add to the understanding of Bronze Age connectivity through a systematic, multi-disciplinary study of stone anchors from Israel and Cyprus. This study will be the largest to date, encompassing more than 200 anchors that will come from three main types of contexts, all belonging to the Middle and Late Bronze Age (ca. 2000/1950-1200/1150 B.C.): 1) anchors found in ship cargo sites 2) anchors found in secondary use in well-dated contexts at coastal sites 3) anchors found in underwater surveys in Israel and Cyprus of types that are chronologically indicative. Cutting edge 3-D documentation methods above and underwater will be used to study technological aspects of production, measurements and other metrics of the anchors. This research is also innovative in the use of multiple, complementary methods for the identification of the origin of the anchors, using a two-stage research program: Initial rock identification will be based on three complementary methods: i. Macroscopic characteristics, ii. Rock petrography, iii. Rock mineralogy (through FTIR spectroscopy, XRD). After this initial study we will employ geochemical characterization of rocks and their acid insoluble fraction in order to try identify additional proxies to distinguish among sedimentary rocks, using ICP-MS and stable oxygen and carbon compositions. The results of this research will be submitted to publication peer reviewed journals, while the entire database, containing both metrology of the anchors as well as the results of the petrography and other analyses will be presented in an open access format, allowing the addition of more anchors in the future.

Fig. 1: possible Cypriot anchor from Dor, sampled underwater (Work in progress: Waiman-Barak, Shahack-Gross, Arkin Shalev and Yasur-Landau)
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