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Byblos Ship 11: The Anchors

Egyptian anchor
Image 1

The first ancient anchors were made of large stones with holes drilled for the hawser ropes. There is an abundance of archaeological finds. In bad weather crews often cut the anchors to avoid damage to the ship, leaving them on the sea bottom, while several shipwrecks of that era have also been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean. Occasionally large stone anchors were used as building material in temples and steles.

Stone anchors that have been discovered, as well as those depicted in ancient reliefs have various sizes and shapes, with most characteristic that with the flat bottom and curved top (Image 1). The flat base is often slightly inclined, possibly to allow the anchor to stand upright on the inclined foredeck.

Egyptian anchor
Image 2

Egyptian anchors in particular have two certain diagnostic characteristics:

1. A groove is carved above the large hole for the hawser rope on both sides of the anchor (Image 2A).

2. Near the base, close to one of the corners an L shaped hole is dug into the stone (Image 2B).

As a basis for constructing the Byblos ship anchors I used one of the seven anchors discovered at the Red Sea coast, where they had been used to form a stele.

I decided to carve the anchors out of actual stone. I used steatite (soapstone), because it carves nicely and can hold details very well, due to its density.

The plan of the Red Sea anchor, showing the characteristics of an Egyptian anchor:

The construction of the Byblos ship anchors from steatite:

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