Bodrum, the Turkish coast and its riches beneath the sea


A Scuba diver in Bodrum

Visit Bodrum Castle with its Museum of Marine Archaeology, cruising on M/S ‘Odysseus’

Some years ago when George Bass, the famous marine archaeologist was excavating with his team the underwater site of the oldest shipwreck ever found (at Olu Burun on the Turkish coast) he came to visit the site and chose to travel down the coast on our gulet M/S Odysseus.

Apart from the pleasure of his company and listening to him at first hand we were privileged to go on board his very small dive boat and to go ashore to see the many artifacts which were being lifted from the sea bottom at great depth. As is now well known they were of great interest and very old. All the contents can be seen well presented in Bodrum Castle. It is truly remarkable that so much valued material could have survived over 3300 years under the sea, as I said, from the oldest shipwreck ever found.

The coast of Turkey has turned out to provide many underwater riches because it formed the essential trade link from the Levant, the Middle East, Cyprus and Egypt.

Bass first met Peter Throckmorton, a New York photo-journalist who arrived in Bodrum in 1958, who took an interest in the divers who made Bodrum so famous for sponges and because of the bronze bust of Demeter recognised on a beach near Bodrum by archaeologist George Bean.

At the end of Throckmorton’s first season diving with sponge divers he had recorded more than thirty wrecks of ancient ships, most wine-carriers from Hellenistic to Mediaeval times. This and other information indicated to Bass how rich the coast would be for future marine exploration; the rest is history.


George F. Bass, ‘Archaeology under Water’, Penguin Books, London, 1966.

Posted by Dargan Bullivant, Partner, Odysseus Cruising, 1 February 2010