Archeologists are planning to sink this ship dozens of times

From Archeologists are planning to sink this ship dozens of times.

Taking stock of the ship’s cargo and figuring out how it sank has been arduous. “Unlike a lot of underwater excavations, we didn’t start out being able to use digital imaging because we started in 1968-69,” says Susan Katzev, wife of Michael Katzev (who died in 2001). “We did it photograph by photograph, many hours of our photographer diving every morning, every afternoon to record the thing two-dimensionally.”

Using this research, full-scale replicas of the ship were built, starting in 1985. These vessels helped test ideas about ancient maritime activity and about the wreck itself—how its cargo was packed, for instance. (Katzev’s team learned that linen soaked in melted beeswax became too brittle to be an effective cover over the ceramic amphorae, which were used to store wine. Goatskins soaked in water overnight and tied with twine around the neck of the amphorae, though, were more effective: The skins didn’t leak.) But replicating ships and amphorae is expensive, and even with the physical replicas, there were still hypotheses about how the ship sank that proved impossible to test. What the researchers really needed was a virtual, 3D model that could be loaded with cargo and sunk repeatedly in the safe waters of a digital simulation. [continue]