İZMİR- Foça will be linked to Marselle in a special project to revisit the history: A Turkish crew will travel the route from the İzmir district to the French city in the next two months, just as their ancestors did centuries ago. Building a replica of an ancient vessel, the group is set to sail to Marseille in as conditions as true to those in 600 B.C. as possible
The project "A Journey into History: İzmir-Phokaia-Marseille" is to recreate the passage of the ship named Kybele, which has been built exactly the same way as the ancient vessels dating back to 600 B.C., and rediscovered in recent excavations.
By using an exact replica and traveling the same 1,700-nautical mile route, the project aims to recreate what the sailors would have endured on the trip the first time around. The ship aims to sail for 10 hours a day and will call into 60 different ports before reaching Marseille on July 1.
The captain of the Kybele, Osman Erkut, who is also the chairman of the foundation behind this project, the 360 Degree Historical Research Association, said that he and his crew would set to sail to Marseille in as conditions as true to those in 600 B.C. as possible.
A crew of archaeologists, engineers, volunteers
"The Kybele was built by a crew of 30, formed of archaeologists, engineers and volunteers," Erkut told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. "We aim to promote the history of the sea, archaeological findings and other historical riches in a popular way, such as interactive projects, animating history and symposiums. We call this experimental archaeology and maritime archaeology."
An archaeologist himself, Erkut explained why revisiting the route between Marseille and İzmir was important:
"The most important of the 12 Ion cities in Western Anatolia were Smyrna (İzmir) and Phokaia (Foça) during B.C. 600," he said. "Phokaia established many colonies in the Mediterranean and took their culture and advanced ideas to these colonies in the Mediterranean. One of the most important colonies was Marseille.
"The basic aim of the project is recreating history to tell and document the impact of Anatolia on the Mediterranean," he added. "What we will do is that we will set to sail from Foça to Marseille under the conditions of that era. This means we will go to Marseille by only sailing or rowing depending on the weather conditions. Although there will be a boat accompanying us during the journey just in case."
Talking about the features of the ship they built, Erkut said that the ship Kybele was a war ship from 600 B.C.
"We finished constructing the ship in a year and a half in the Urla district of İzmir through a cooperative effort by the 360 Degree Historical Research Association, which is co-organizing the journey with the French Cultural Center, and the Turkish American Association," said Erkut. "Its length is 19 meters, its width is 5.5 meters. The total sail area is 85-square meters. There is room for 20 oars on each side of the ship. We have a crew of 30 made up of various professionals. Eight of the crew are female."
A littel delay due to bureaucratic procedures
The group had a leaving ceremony in Foça last Saturday, but will have to wait as certain bureaucratic procedures need completing before they can set sail next week.
"We had this ceremony, but we did not really start sailing because we were still waiting on some bureaucratic signatures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Most probably we will set to sail between the 10th and 15th of May from Çeşme," he explained. "I am saying most probably, because we have to consider weather conditions. In ancient times, they also had to take the weather conditions into consideration."
The skipper said: "French people, Marseille people in particular, pay attention to Foça. For that reason French institutions also paid attention to this project, especially when it is the Season of Turkish culture in France. Our journey will not end when we reached Marseille on the 1st of July. We will attend some activities to be organized in Marseille."
The journey does not end in Marseille, either, as from there the crew will head on to Paris to be there for Turkish Republic day on Oct. 29. After that they will sail by river through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania until the Black Sea. Finally, The Kybele will be back in Istanbul to be part of the activities for the 2010 Capital City of Culture.
The crew is embarking on this journey in the hope of experiencing how cultures interacted some 26 centuries ago.
"We are carrying out our studies under the name of ’Experimental archaeology. This means we will be looking to answer the questions of what happened, how they did it, and what it was like," Erkut said.
Talking about their other projects, Erkut said that recreating the Uluburun, the world’s oldest wreckage would follow.
"We will remodel the Uluburun, the 3,000-year-old ship that was exhibited in Bochum Bergbau Museum and visited by 500,000 people," he said. "We are also planning to make a journey between Crete and Alexander."
As to financing such a huge undertaking, Erkut said they found sponsors for the projects, "plus there are donations to our association."