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Shipwrecks harbor evidence of ancient sophistication

Frame-based shipbuilding emerged surprisingly early and became more advanced within a few hundred years.

PHILADELPHIA — Surprising insights about ancient shipbuilding have floated to the surface from the submerged remnants of two major harbors, one on Israel’s coast and the other bordering Istanbul, Turkey. Researchers described their finds January 9 at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Analyses of salvaged crafts indicate that shipbuilders started making sophisticated frames for their vessels by about 1,500 years ago, 500 years earlier than had been suspected, reported Yaakov Kahanov of the University of Haifa in Israel. By a few hundred years later, craft constructors had steadily improved hull designs for a diverse collection of ships, says Cemal Pulak of Texas A&M University in College Station.

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