- The Byzantium Amphoras -


  Indeed, I had chosen another subject for this issue.
When dear Yasar KALAFAT from Deniz Magazine told me that the flash news of this month (that Mrs. Nergis GINSENIN has been trying to bring to light) was Ganos Excavations in the Marmara sea, I have found it reasonable to turn my face on the Byzantium.
I was distantly taking a liking to a team whom I have never met, but have followed up from the press. I know that,with the difficulty of sinking a well with a needle, they are scraping these ponents with their hearts. Again I believe that they will surely share with us the secrets of ongoing researches.
To profit by an opportunity, I will try to explain to you my opinions on Byzantium Amphoras, from the eyes of a collector. But you should keep in mind that this time I am not prepared.
From this moment on, even I do not know what will spill from my pen,on this very last day to finish my article. If you like, we may make a change in this edition and try to make it look a little bit more attractive by using small headlines.
Yes,are you ready now??
If you are ready, after writing the first subtitle I am heading towards these pages, my feelings and thoughts with me. 



For some reason or other, we have always stayed away from the civilizations (below the ground, above the ground, under the sea ) coming out from our country
The Byzantium certainly got its own share from that,and had been ignored for a long time. However, as a human, it is our duty to protect something which has bloomed out of this geography and fruited both intellectually and visually, thus reaching us.

The Byzantium was already the puritan and 1000 years of dark tranquility of the Middle Ages,when the people had turned their faces into the afterlife. Therefore, even the underwater archaeologists admiring the wonderful art works of the Classic and Helenistic Ages and the incredible grandeur of Rome, treated this age like it was a stepchild.

No sufficient research has thus been made about the BC we live in and the identifications and determinations for the Amphoras has not been set yet, eventhough there have been identifications on the Amphoras of the BC, from Italy to Spain, from Egypt to Crete, from Rhodes to Kos.
For this reason, expept the “Ganos Amphoras”, The Byzantium Empire is a center about which we have the least information. However it would be useful to examine The Byzantium Amphoras with a perspective on a broader historical process.




At this point, we may need to ask "Which phase of the Byzantium it is ?" (reflecting its effects on the Amphora types and production.)

*The one of the advanced preparations, from the time Constaninus expanded the Byzantion, choosing the Eastern Rome their capital in 330 to the moment Teodoisus died?

*The one that Justinianus, chosen as the emperpor in 527 ruled from Spain to Italy in the west, from the entire North Africa to Egypt, the entire Mediterranean? (in this period Constantinopolis was the most populated, the most important city in the world, with its population of nearly one million people, with its harbour, marchants, artists, travelers, adventurers and trade roads.)

*The one, after losing to Turks in Malazgirt in 1071, also in Myriokephalon in 1176, leaving it to Anatolian Beyliks?

*Even the one who came under the plundering in the first Crusade in 1906, also suffering from the Catalan plunderers?

*The one from the time the Mongolians whose invasion exposed the entire Anatolia, including the Byzantium to exaction, to the time the city fell in 1453 with its remaining population of only 50.000 people?

Sadly, we have only “Ganos” now, that the Byzantium, with that much adventure and history, left behind.

Let us hope that the Byzantium knot that Mrs. Nergis GINSENIN has taken hold of gets undone soon, and the reseaches researches on a larger scale can be started in the other regions.
Eventhough we can not see the amphora ovens around İstanbul, flooded with slum houses, I believe that only in the Marmara District many Amphora ovens will be found, from Nikomedia( İzmit ) to Nikaia (İznik), from Khersonesostan (Gallipoli Peninsula) to Abydos (Çanakkale), from Kyzikos(Kapıdagi) to Arteke (Erdek) and from Prokonnessos (Ancient Islands of the Marmara Sea), to Perinthos-Heraklia ; so the exact identifications and discriptions would be made in these places.
Along with the districts like the islands keeping their amphora traditions for centuries and continuing their ekols, we now have healtier knowledge about the Ganos Amphoras whose ponents were found in the Marmara Islands, after we precisely fixed where their ovens for production had been.I wonder how the Amphoras of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and Aegean region were during the Byzantium phases I have mentioned above. I even wonder how the Amphoras of Cappadocia, famous with its pottery and its wines but in a region without the sea, were. No one has yet come to sufficient information about all these,beyond predictions.However according to Mrs.Tamara Talbot Rice, the author of “Daily Life in the Byzantium”, in the 6th and 7th centuries BC,two of the most important professions of Constantinopolis Trade Hall were leather making and pottery.Again according to Rice, in this period Constantinopolis and Thessalonika were the two centers of Amphoras and potters of the highest quality. Nicomedia was an important center of production and it is obvious that Nicaia, later to be called as“İzmit”, the birth place of Turkish tile industy, was an important center as well.

As before, from the 8th to the 11th century Constantinopolis was the heart of trade, from China to India, from Venice to Greece, from England to Rusia. The wine, sent inside the amphoras, was one of the most important export goods. In my collection, there are several Byzantium Amphoras of different periods and and regions; they are of various types. We can only reach the serious and exact information, apart from Ganos, by means of excavations to be conducted on the ground, C14 tests and comparisons of amphoras, coming out of ponents.

When the Ganos Excavations took a start “Oh,at last there came someone here to search the widely known ponents just round the corner,though late.”said I. Because,in the regions that the trawler dragged their nets both the ponents were being destroyed and the Ganos Amphoras were being sold at the fish counters. Like everyone, I was indeed rather disturbed to see how, in the center of the Byzantium, our history and cultural heritage of submarine had been getting squendered, just as it had been on the ground.If our submarine archaeologists were a little bit curious, if they were self confident, if they could strike up a friendship with trawlers, small fishermen, sea shellers, oyster pickers; if they attempted to find sponsorship by contacting the press, the ministry, the finance and business environment, they would have presented many important ponents to the world literature.With the unbearable comfort of relying on I.N.A, even the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology has been doing a worse performance than expected for years. We can not deny what has been done so far, but properly speaking, we desire to hear about more researches and witness more scientific attempts and efforts in these waters,possessing the most precious ponents. (Here, we should take into consideration that our state does not support those people and institutions, and not a large budget has been allocated to them.) (I know that critiques will pour down on me now). With an example I will give you, you will understand better how incurious and lazy some of our archaeologists are. So far, not a even single person has called Mustafa Aydemir, who has hundreds of different amphoras and tries to share his excitement with you, to ask if they could see ‘‘those amphoras’’. Not that I needs something like this; I would say ‘‘no’’ anyway, if they called me hereafter. However, to see only one amphora I travel long distances and I beg the fisherman, who weighs everything with money, to sell the amphora to me; so that I could save it from falling into merciless hands. Eventhugh I can not buy it, I become contented that I at least saw it. I wonder which period it belonged to. I know that it is the gunpowder, curiosity and determination, triggers the science. If a person lacks this love and excitement, the scientific research and information can not be mentioned here. (Yes, after that much provoking our archaeologist friends, we may continue now.)

I firstly met with the Ganos amphoras in Serçe Port in the glass submarine where i had been working for a very short time, in the name of A.I.N.A. (American National Archeological Institute-it later became I.N.A) in 1977. Then I was a student in the Academy of Fine Arts, and a diving teacher in Turkish Skin Divers Club. I didn’t know that I would when returning notice the ganos amphoras in İstanbul’s fish restaurants as i was working in the back holds of submerge (where small round ganos amphoras were abundant) together with the esteemed man named Oguz Alpozen, the first underwater archeologist of Turkey and my acquaintance from Antalya. My love causing me to pick amphoras probably has its roots in unbelievable density of emotion I felt in this submerge. In my opinion,Ganos amphoras,just like the Sinop amphoras, may be in the group of the most produced amphoras in the world,with its continuous productions lasting for centuries. The Ganosians (today’s Gazi town) exported Marmara wine to all the world through centuries maintaining all their livings according to viniculture, and they gained a rightful pride thanx to this. According to what we have learned from the information in the book of Mr. Tufan TURANLI, who has written the marvelous book named “The history in our seas” last year, Mrs. Nergis GINSENIN firstly came to Ganos in 1989. In the region, 11 submerge belonging to Byzantium Empire were found in the excavations carried out between 1993-1995. 7 of them were of Ganos type, 3 were from the 7th.century submerge, 1 was of flumes,tiles and in the type of Yassı island submerge,and the last kind of amphoras used in maritime trade for the last time were found in the 11th. one. Besides, apart from the marble submerge found in the North of Ekinlik island in 1977, Tekmezar 1 submerge, sunken with at least 21.600 Ganos Amphoras in the southwest of Tekmezar point, after that Tekmezar2 submerge that had nearly 3000 Ganos amphoras was found. Finally, a submerge that was in Çamaltı and supposed to be belonging to 13th.century in 20-30 meters depth was named as “Camalti Point Submerge” . And the type of 200 amphoras in this submerge had true likeness with the ones in Serçe Port submerge. Strabon states that Ganos was established as a Greek colony in the 1st. century B.C.

Ganos, declared to be a prosperous monastery settling place since the 10th century A.D., was accepted as a sacred place by seamen and was being visited rather frequently. The natives of Ganos, while selling at least a half of their productions to Constantinopolis, were exporting nearly the other half amount. A paragraph from the article of Mr. Gokhan TAN about Ganos is like this : The Ottoman composition register tells Ganos of 16th century: ''Ve bundan gayrı karye-i Horada kabakulakçı kafirler vardır. Yılda maktu boş kabakulak virürler ayruk nesne virmezler. Amil ol boş kabakulakdan virir şira ile doldurup amile teslim ederler. (the one from the Atlas periodical of August in 1998) “Kabakulak”is what the ottomans call the jugs with ear-shaped handles. It seems that in Ottoman period, the amphora and wine production of non-moslems since antiquity continued in this period as well.

And seeing that we have only Ganos from huge Byzantium Empire,then lets leave telling about Ganos to its true masters and listen to them respectfully…
NOTE: For the last time, I want to repeat the answer of a question that people not knowing about me ask frequently.

1) There’s not even a single amphora that I took by diving
2) I am among the ones who know that even a single amphora taken from underwater will terminate the location and trace of that submerge.
3) All the amphoras (apart from 3) passed me from trawl seller,and by buying from fisher or by way of a donation, and all of them are registered to İstanbul Archeological Museum.
4) My greatest goal is to give my country the gift of a marine museum in the future. Also, i’m not interested in who is being meant by this sentence :” The guy is rich, he has enjoyed every pleasure,and he has taken out all the amphoras he found”

Best Regards..

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