Evaluation of the modern submarine landscape off southwestern Turkey through the documentation of ancient shipwreck sites

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The issue of damage to shipwreck sites caused by the operation of mobile fishing gear has only recently begun to be addressed by the archaeological community. However, the nature, extent, and intensity of this damage has yet to be quantified. Acoustic and video surveys conducted between 2008 and 2010 located and imaged sixteen ancient shipwrecks around the Bodrum and Datça Peninsulas, Turkey, many of which were heavily damaged by trawling activity. The results of this research illustrate the unfortunate reality that many wreck sites in the Aegean Sea are heavily damaged by modern fishing activities. Quantifying the extent and intensity of trawl scars on the seabed further reveals the geographic spread of damage in these areas. The results of these mapping projects call attention to the dismantling of cultural sites by the use of mobile fishing gear on the seabed. By comparing the number of broken artifacts on these wreck sites to other sites that have escaped the effects of trawling, such as those in the Black Sea, we see that shipwrecks that are or were at one time in areas of trawling activity show a considerable amount of damage. The location and condition of these wreck sites helps map and quantify past and recent trawling activity, and pinpoint areas on the shallow coastal shelf where additional trawling restrictions or protected zones may be able to help the preservation of archaeological material. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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Continental Shelf Research