Four Rare Ring-Shaped Artifacts from Antalya and Mediterranean Diver Weights of Antiquity

ÖNİZ H., Denker A.

Journal of Maritime Archaeology, vol.17, no.4, pp.559-577, 2022 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11457-022-09343-2
  • Journal Name: Journal of Maritime Archaeology
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, Anthropological Literature, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Art Abstracts, Art Index, Art Source, Index Islamicus
  • Page Numbers: pp.559-577
  • Keywords: Ancient divers, Diver weights, Salvaging rings, Stone anchors, Underwater archeology
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.Four rare discoveries from the coast of Antalya provide evidence that divers were active in the area during the Hellenistic-Roman Periods as has been indicated in many different sites of the Mediterranean basin in the same period. The first discovery was a stone tool found off the ancient Cilicia Region on Alanya-Antalya coastline of Southern Turkey in 2011. The second find was discovered in 2019, off the coast of ancient Lycia region, alongside the shores of the Three-Islands of Kemer-Antalya. This second artifact is a more familiar ring-shaped object made of lead. It is similar to objects found off the coast of Israel and identified as “salvage rings.” These two objects were found as lone objects, neither associated with a shipwreck nor within a specific context. These were followed by two other ring-shaped objects found in 2021, again off the ancient Lycia region, one in Kaş and the other one on the Kekova coastline. Both of these objects are marble weights and akin to the one which had been found on the coast of Caesarea, Israel and named as a “salvaging ring” in the literature. These two marble rings have been found near shipwrecks. One surmises they were possibly used by divers to retrieve some sunken cargo. All four finds could be examples of diver weights that were used by ancient divers for reaching the desired depths faster for salvage operations or other diving activities such as harvesting sponges and oysters. Artifacts of these sorts found on the seabed are extremely rare. Along the entire 640 km Antalya coastline, over a time span of two decades, these are the only four recovered objects. In searching for the history of these artifacts and their originally intended purposes, a study is conducted with similar objects from different sites of the Mediterranean. This paper concludes with a recent experiment to test whether the artifacts could have been diver weights.