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Serçe Limani, Vol 2

The Glass of an Eleventh-Century Shipwreck

By George Bass, Berta Lledo, Sheila Matthews, and Robert H. Brill

Publication Year: 2009

For almost a millennium, a modest wooden ship lay underwater off the coast of Serçe Limani, Turkey, filled with evidence of trade and objects of daily life. The ship, now excavated by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, trafficked in both the Byzantine and Islamic worlds of its time. Known as "the Glass Wreck," it bore cargo that included three metric tons of glass cullet, including broken Islamic vessels and eighty pieces of intact glassware, along with various artifacts of ship life. This second volume of the discovery’s investigation focuses on the excavation, conservation, and study of the glass found in the wreckage. The extensive catalog will be a valuable tool for archaeologists and scholars of Islamic glass and Islamic trade. Further, the systematic methodology and presentation of such a large undertaking will serve as a model for future study across many disciplines.      

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

The remains of a modest merchant ship that sank around a.d. 1025 were excavated between 1977 and 1979 by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), then named the American Institute of Nautical Archaeology, in a natural harbor known today as Serçe Limanı, just opposite Rhodes on Turkey’s...


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pp. xiii-xiv

PART I: Introduction

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CHAPTER 1: The Voyage

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pp. 3-5

In the third decade of the eleventh century, a Byzantine merchant ship, while on a return voyage from the Fatimid Syrian coast to the environs of Constantinople, sought anchorage, perhaps in bad weather, at Serçe Limanı, a natural harbor on the southern Anatolian coast directly north of the...

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CHAPTER 2: Excavation, Conservation, and Study

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pp. 7-24

The 1973 discovery and subsequent excavation by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) of the ship that carried the glass cataloged in this volume were fully described in the first volume of the excavation report. Because the reader of only this volume will need familiarity with the context in which...

PART II: Mold Decorations

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CHAPTER 3: The Molds

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pp. 27-37

Mold- blown and applied decorations were the most popular glass decorations in the medieval Near East. Mold blowing was particularly prevalent, especially by the time the ship sank at Serçe Limanı.1 It was an inexpensive method of producing decorated vessels that were “a substitute for the more...

PART III: Drinking Vessels

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CHAPTER 4: Beakers

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pp. 41-76

“Beaker” is the term most oft en used in publications on ancient and medieval art to describe truncated- cone and short- cylindrical vessel shapes like those in the Serçe Limanı collection.1 Nevertheless, such vessels are variously labeled...

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pp. 77-80

Cups constitute one of the smaller groups of glass vessels found in the Serçe Limanı shipwreck (Fig. 5-1); 66 are cataloged. Three survived intact (CP 2, 3, and 7) and three others (CP 64– 66) seem to have been intact when the ship sank; none of these are from the cargo of cullet. The remaining cups...

PART IV: Shallow Dishes

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CHAPTER 6: Plates

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pp. 83-90

From the many thousands of glass fragments recovered from the wreck, it was possible to reconstruct hundreds of dishes. None appear to have been intact at the time of sinking, nor were substantial fragments found in the areas believed to have been the living quarters of the ship. Shards labeled as...

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CHAPTER 7: Serving Dishes

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pp. 91-99

The category of serving dishes includes all fl at- bottomed dishes with nearly vertical sides and more or less plain rims. They diff er from flat- bottom bowls (chapter 9), whose heights are greater in relation to their bottom diameters. Named...

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CHAPTER 8: Ring- Base Dishes

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pp. 100-103

A unique kind of glass flatware is represented by a few fragmentary examples recovered from the wreck (Fig. 8-1). It differs from other dishes and plates by its flatness, narrow rim, and the presence of a looped or solid ring base. The shape was formed by spinning a disc of glass out to the desired diameter, then folding it down and back onto itself to...

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CHAPTER 9: Flat- Bottom Bowls

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pp. 109-114

The fragmentary remains of 84 small bowls with flat bottoms, generally light green, were recovered from the shipwreck (Fig. 9-1). They are distinguished from other bowl types by these bottoms and by walls that rise from the bottoms at approximately 90o angles. The wall is either convex or...

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CHAPTER 10: Cylindrical Bowls

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pp. 115-121

Cylindrical bowls are distinguished from the other bowls by straight walls that rise vertically above an approximate 90o angle with a plain bottom or bottom with a looped base (Fig. 10-1 and Pl. 15). The majority have deep bodies. They are...

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CHAPTER 11: Basket Bowls

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pp. 123-130

Twenty- eight so-called basket bowls were identified in the shipwrecked glass (Fig. 11-1). Profi les of 20 are complete (BB 1– 10, 15– 24) and 8 others are represented by bottoms (BB 11– 14, 25– 28) that are at least 50% preserved. There are...

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CHAPTER 12: Flared Bowls

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pp. 131-160

Flared bowls are distinguished from other bowls by having their greatest diameters at their rims, due to their flaring sides (Fig. 12-1 and Pl. 17). Unlike most other glass vessels on the ship, the flared bowls have many different bottom, base, body, and rim profiles, making the category quite...

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CHAPTER 13: Hemispherical Bowls

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pp. 161-175

Small vessels of this shape are cataloged as cups in other publications. The difference between “bowl” and “cup” is not clear, however, since the two nomenclatures are partly based on different uses, and there is no clear division between smaller “bowls” and larger “cups.” With sizes ranging widely...

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CHAPTER 14: Ellipsoid Bowls

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pp. 177-181

Fragments from at least 63 ellipsoid bowls were raised from the shipwreck. This category of bowls is characterized by ellipsoid body profiles and flared or horizontal rims (Fig. 14-1). Only three pieces (EB 36, 37, and 38) have complete profiles. Two more (EB 39 and 40) preserve their bases, but the...

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CHAPTER 15: Unusual Bowls

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pp. 183-187

Twenty- five vessels do not fit precisely into any other category and are cataloged separately (Fig. 15-1). All seem to be from the cargo of cullet; an anomalous shard of UB 21, said to be from grid square K3 at the ship’s bow, can be discounted as a “rogue” shard, as described in chapter 2. The glass quality...


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CHAPTER 16: Disk- Rim Bottles

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pp. 191-213

Among the wide variety of bottles recovered from the Serçe Limanı shipwreck are a group distinguished by discoid rims, sometimes called fl ange- rim fl asks.1 Those with tapering necks can be divided into two major types, those...

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CHAPTER 17: Bubble- Rim Bottles

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pp. 215-221

There does not seem to be a specific name in the glass literature for a bottle with a neck that bulges at the top beneath an incurving rim (Fig. 17-1 and Pl. 19). Such bottles are here called bubble- rim bottles (BR).1 The Serçe Limanı bottles are further characterized by...

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CHAPTER 18: Bubble- Neck Bottles

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pp. 223-235

Bottles of this class have one or two collar- like, bulging rings on their flaring necks (Fig. 18-1 and Pl. 20). The Serçe Limanı examples were originally cataloged as ring- neck bottles, but we now prefer the established nomenclature...

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CHAPTER 19: Perfume Flasks

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pp. 236-241

Twenty- six flasks recovered from the Serçe Limanı wreck are distinguished by their size, being smaller than most of the other vessel types found on the wreck, and by their shape, which includes a funnel- shaped neck, slightly rounded shoulder, and usually cylindrical body and flat bottom...

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CHAPTER 20: Toiletry Bottles

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pp. 243-251

In the Serçe Limanı glass cargo there were at least 130 toiletry bottles, sometimes called toilet flasks. None was intact or complete (Fig. 20-1 and Pl. 21). They are identified by having cylindrical or very slightly flaring necks, the difference in diameter between the wider mouth and the narrower join at...

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CHAPTER 21: Tubular- Neck Bottles

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pp. 253-258

This group of 37 bottles from the ship’s cargo of cullet is distinguished by tall and narrow tubular necks, sometimes wheel- cut with different designs (Fig. 21-1). There is no intact piece or complete profile among them; generally the necks are completely preserved, but with almost no attached body...

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CHAPTER 22: Scent Sprinklers

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pp. 259-267

Remains of 221 bottles of a type probably used as sprinklers for rose water or a similar substance were identified in the shipwrecked glass (Fig. 22-1).1 During the course of the excavation we called them “onion bottles” because of their superficial resemblance to the much heavier seventeenth- and...

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CHAPTER 23: Askoi

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pp. 269-271

Shaped something like preclassical and classical Greek terra cotta askoi, and sometimes called that in the glass literature, are several animal- shaped fl asks that may have their beginnings in Roman times but continued in Islamic glass at least until the time of the Serçe Limanı shipwreck. Summer...

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CHAPTER 24: Other Bottles

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pp. 273-290

In addition to the bottle types described in chapters 16 through 23 there are a few others, mostly quite fragmentary and with relatively few examples. For example, there are only two or three square (QB) bottles, fragments of four bowl-mouth (BM) bottles, fragments of seven...

PART VII: Pouring Vessels with Handles

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CHAPTER 25: Ewers

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pp. 293-302

The Serçe Limanı wreck yielded the fragments of at least 50 ewers in its cargo of cullet, and one intact ewer was carried in the living space at the bow of the ship (Fig. 25-1). They are of a consistent shape, having a smooth bottom without a base, sometimes with a slight kick, above which...

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CHAPTER 26: Jugs

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pp. 303-308

The Serçe Limanı wreck yielded fragments of at least 30 jugs in the cargo of cullet along with one intact jug and another missing only its handle from the living space at the bow of the ship (Fig. 26-1). For the purposes of this catalog, a vessel...

PART VIII: Storage Vessels

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CHAPTER 27: Globular Jars

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pp. 311-319

Fragments of 81 globular jars of various sizes were identified in the shipwrecked glass (Fig. 27-1 and Pl. 26). Excavators called these jars “fish bowls” because of their shape, characterized by a splaying rim and short concave neck above a sloping shoulder that curves into the sides, which generally...

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CHAPTER 28: Cylindrical Jars

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pp. 321-334

The cargo of cullet at Serçe Limanı yielded the fragmentary remains of at least 293 jars that are quite distinct from the globular jars (chapter 27). These free- blown vessels are characterized by walls that rise at an approximate 90o angle from the fl at surfaces upon which the bottoms rest, forming...

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CHAPTER 29: Demijohns and Other Large Globular Bottles

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pp. 335-347

The Serçe Limanı wreck yielded the fragments of at least 248 large, globular bottles in its cargo of cullet, none of them intact or completely restorable (Fig. 29-1). Some are large enough to be considered demijohns. With the exception of one mold- decorated example, all are free- blown. Their most...

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CHAPTER 30: Large Aqua Bottles

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pp. 349-352

At least 24 aqua bottles were identified in the cullet, none intact or complete. These are large bottles with globular bodies, fine walls, and characteristic conical necks (Fig. 30-1 and Pl. 30). They are distinguished from all other large bottles by the aqua glass of which they are made, which is generally...

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CHAPTER 31: Handled Jars with Threaded Rims

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pp. 353-354

Seven examples of this type were recovered from the Serçe Limanı wreck, but only two preserve remains of their handles (Fig. 31-1). Five are only necks, but their manufacture, quality, and shape indicate that they belong to the same category. Seven separate handles are probably from vessels of this type...

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CHAPTER 32: Large Cylindrical Necks

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pp. 355-357

Thirty- three cylindrical necks of large diameter, usually greater than 6.5 cm, with simple or thickened rims are cataloged separately because no complete vessel in the Serçe Limanı cullet has such a neck (Fig. 32-1). Jar necks that bear the closest resemblance, for example, are shorter and usually...

PART IX: Lamps

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CHAPTER 33: Lamps

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pp. 361-374

Fragments of at least 247 glass lamps were recovered from the wreck (Fig. 33-1).1 It is doubtful that any of these were intact at the time the ship sank, so all may be considered part of the cargo of broken glass. Th is conclusion is reinforced by the fact that virtually no lamp fragments were found in what we...

PART X: Miscellaneous Glass Objects

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CHAPTER 34: Cupping Glasses and Alembics

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pp. 377-384

The cupping glasses (or bleeding cups) and alembic heads from Serçe Limanı were studied together because of the similarity of their long spouts, which distinguish them from all other medieval Islamic glass vessels, and because of their uses in medieval science (Fig. 34-1 with Pls. 31 and 32)...

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CHAPTER 35: Crown Glass

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pp. 385-389

A small but unique category of glass from the wreck is that of crown glass, also called “window panes” or “bull’s eye glass” (Fig. 35-1 with Pls. 33 and 34). The Serçe Limanı wreck yielded fragments from 18 examples. Although no intact panes were recovered, sufficient fragments of each cataloged piece...

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CHAPTER 36: Rods

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pp. 391-392

The category of glass rods here encompasses straight or almost straight shafts of circular cross section, regardless of diameter or length (Fig. 36-1). The 93 rods identified in the Serçe Limanı glass are divided into three categories: Type I, twisted; Type II, functional; and Type III, off - cuts. All...

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CHAPTER 37: Miscellaneous Glass Items

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pp. 393-397

Aft er extensive study of all categories of glass from the ship, a small collection of variously shaped items remained, each virtually unique (Fig. 37-1). Unless otherwise noted, all are of fair glass quality...

PART XI: Vessel Fragments

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CHAPTER 38: Threaded Tops of Unknown Vessels

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pp. 401-410

A common feature in the cullet at Serçe Limanı is threaded or trailed decoration on rims and upper necks (Fig. 38-1). Although trailed decoration has been noted in other chapters, the fragments that cannot be categorized elsewhere demand individual attention. Because little glass below the rims is...

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CHAPTER 39: Handles and Handle- Like Objects

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pp. 411-415

After years of diligent repair, a large quantity of the Serçe Limanı glass, mostly body fragments, remains unrestored. Because handles are usually thicker and more durable than the vessels to which they are attached, it is not surprising that they occasionally remain the only intelligible traces of vessels...

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CHAPTER 40: Stemmed Vessels

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pp. 417-419

There are few examples of stems from vessels other than lamps, and none preserve enough body to ascertain the entire vessel shape (Fig. 40-1); we can only guess if they came from goblets, footed beakers or bowls, or some other kinds of drinking vessels or containers. Fourteen vessel feet and six...

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CHAPTER 41: Bottoms and Bases

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pp. 421-440

This chapter compiles bottom and base fragments that are not recognized as belonging to any of the numerous glass categories previously discussed (Fig. 41-1 and Pl. 35). They were randomly mixed in the cullet. Free- blown and mold- decorated bottoms and bases are presented in separate sections. All...

PART XII: Raw Glass and Factory Wasted

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CHAPTER 42: Raw Glass and Factory Waste

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pp. 443-456

Cullet is both raw, unworked glass, broken into pieces, and scrap glass collected for recycling. Here we present the different types of cullet other than those pieces of scrap glass assigned to recognizable glass vessels in other chapters, although they themselves were also cullet meant...

PART XIII: The Chemistry of the Glass

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CHAPTER 43: Chemical Analyses

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pp. 459-496

Since 1960 the Corning Museum of Glass has collaborated with Professor George Bass on scientific investigations of glass and certain other artifacts recovered during his excavations. As part of this collaboration, chemical analyses of 103 small samples removed from fragments of glass from the...

PART XIV: Conclusions

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CHAPTER 44: The Glass Cargo: A Summation

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pp. 499-504

Between 1977 and 1979 the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and Texas A&M University, with the assistance of the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, excavated a ship that sank in the third decade of the eleventh century inside the bay known today as Serçe Limanı, Turkey...

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pp. 505-508

The glass from the Serçe Limanı shipwreck is of unique importance because (1) the sample is very large; (2) it comes from an undisturbed context that is closely datable by some of the associated artifacts; (3) it was excavated and recorded meticulously; (4) the tasks of sorting, mending, and...


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pp. 509-


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pp. 511-516


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pp. 517-519

E-ISBN-13: 9781603443654
E-ISBN-10: 1603443657
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603440646
Print-ISBN-10: 160344064X

Page Count: 536
Illustrations: 44 color photos. 100 b&w photos. 1000 drawings. 938 line art. 3 maps. 17 site plans. 12 tables. 3 charts.
Publication Year: 2009

Volume Title: Serçe Limani
Series Title: Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series