Votruba, Gregory

University of Oxford

Research Topic: Early Medieval Iron Anchor Design of the Anatolian Peninsula into the Age of Exploration

Dr. Votruba is a marine archaeologist who recently received his PhD from the University of Oxford. He focuses on maritime trade, human interaction with the sea, and landscapes of pre-industrial maritime cultures (coastal settlements, harbors, coastal geomorphology, and ancient maritime economy generally). He has excavated at the sites of Caesarea Maritima’s Sebastos Harbor (Israel), and an Archaic and Classical harbor of Liman Tepe/Klazomenai (Turkey). For his doctoral research he investigated ancient mooring practice and the development of iron anchors. This work includes the foundations of a corpus of published ancient anchor finds (until ca. 1500 CE), and incorporates an experimentation project based on full-scale anchor reconstructions of all types, completed in cooperation with Osman Erkurt of the 360° Research Group. For his ANAMED fellowship research, Dr. Votruba is investigating iron anchor design in the seas surrounding the Anatolian Peninsula during the Byzantine through Renaissance Periods. This is a region and time of great social and technological change, and this may be reflected in the designs of iron anchors. Alongside other distinctive features, the general form changes from a ‘T’ like cruciform shape through a ‘Y’ and, finally, the design commonly known. Various theories for these forms include diversifying long-distance connections and their influences, ship size and design changes, technological iron working limitations in tandem with revolutionary advancements, and even possible association with sacred symbolism.