The Ma'agan Mikhael Ship Wing serves as a living laboratory and workshop
for the study of ancient ships. Professionals as well as the general public,
visitors to the University's Hecht Museum and the adjacent auditorium,
are all welcome to the wing.
The Ma'agan Mikhael Ship Project-excavation, conservation, reconstruction
and display at the Ma'agan Mikhael Ship Wing has been made possible through
the ongoing, generous support of Lord Anthony and Lady Evelyn Jacobs.
Elisha Linder - Director of M.M. Ancient Ship Project
Ya`akov (Yak) Kahanov - Curator and Conservator
The Ship Wing - General View
Reassembling the Ship's Hull
During the excavation in 1988 and 1989, the hull of the ship was
dismantled underwater, and the timbers were transferred to a conservation
laboratory at the University of Haifa.
The conservation method used was to replace the sea water in waterlogged
timbers by polyethylene glycol ("PEG 100%"). It was completed in June 1996.
The wood was then left for seasoning. In March 1999, the timbers were transferred
to the new museum wing built at the university in the Hecht Museum.
In March 1999, an International Colloquium on Ship Reconstruction was
held at Haifa University. Among the participants were well known experts
in nautical archaeology, from 10 countries around the Mediterranean and
beyond. During the Colloquium, reassemble methods were considered and recommended.
The Colloquium Discussions in Process
The main idea was to reassemble the pieces on adjustable, temporary wooden
scaffolding. By utilizing this method it was hoped to eliminate the distortion
that occurred after deposition, during the excavation and conservation.
The reassembly process, directed by Dr. Ya'acov Kahanov, began with setting
the keel. The next stage was installing the stem and stern posts.
Placing the Keel on a Temporary Wooden Scaffolding
During the first half of December 1999, supports for the port side planking
were designed and constructed. The supports were shaped according to the
actual frame remains. Starting with the garboard, plank sections were slowly
put into place, reminding one of a huge jigsaw puzzle. After the third
strake of the port side was completed, a similar process was carried out
for the starboard side. To starboard, the frames' supports included the
futtocks that survived only on that side. The main challenge of the reconstruction
procedure is the three dimensional adjustment based on the sizes and shape
of the various components. Also, efforts at minimizing the tolerance of
fitness is a serious concern. By the beginning of January 2000, three strakes
from both port and starboard were positioned, 10 out of 14 floor timbers
were installed, and the mast step was affixed, albeit for only a few minutes.
After three years the ship was reassembled.
All the pieces are now once again dismantled in order to allow the construction of the permanent metal mount for the ship.
Thanks to the extraordinary state of preservation of the hull, these
timbers hold such a great amount of data. It has enabled us to study closely
every single detail and its relationship to the other structural components
of the ship.
The reassemble procedure is being accompanied by a thorough recording
process along with photography of many of the construction details.
This project has received a three-year grant from the Israel Science Foundation which enables, among others, our graduate students to
participate in the process of re-building the ship and even write their
M.A. Theses on different aspects of ship-building technology.
Where planks had become distorted, they have been reshaped. Each
piece of planking, after being submerged for a night in PEG at 60°C
to render it flexible, was eased into the original shape and held in place
using battens and clamps. This jig-saw puzzle was made easier, due to the
original labelling (stainless steel needles and Dymo tape), that survived
the years of the conservation process and all the handling to which the
parts were subjected.
The remaining pieces will be put in place when an overhead gantry
is installed to allow the assembly team to work inside the hull while being
suspended from above.
The reconstructed Ship - General View
The ship is now dismantled and
special supports are being constructed for the final assembly and museum display.
The exibition of the anchor