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Analysis of the Weight Assemblages from the Late Bronze Age Shipwrecks at Uluburun and Cape Gelidonya, Turkey

Cemalettin Mustafa Pulak
Dissertation: December 1996
Chair: Bass
Nautical Archaeology Program

The assemblages of pan-balance weights recovered from the excavations of Cape Gelidonya and Uluburun shipwrecks, in southern Turkey, comprise the largest and most complete collection of Late Bronze Age pan0balance weights recovered from single archaeological sites.

These assemblages owe much of their importance not only to the rare glimpse they give us about the world of Bronze Age merchants and the consignments of weighing implements they carried with them, but also because of the opportunity they provide in allowing us to examine individual weights, weight sets, and pan balances that were in concurrent use when each ship sank. Furthermore, by being able to compare the two diachronic assemblages, separated in time from each other by about a century, we are able to assess whether the weight standards were subject to a gradual change or debasement of value over time.

Combining diverse information obtained from other archaeological excavations with data obtained from the excavations at Uluburun and Cape Gelidonya, we are able to make observations about local and long-distance trade and commercial patterns in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. This analysis will also contribute to the understanding of life and economic activities of the international trader during the Bronze Age. From a macro perspective, analysis of the weight assemblages should indicate some of the driving factors or economic necessities fro standardization of weights. An in-depth analysis of the weight collections from these Late Bronze Age shipwrecks will draw together many sources of data, thereby offering new perspectives on the process of standardization of trade in the ancient world.

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