Analyses of ballast stones from the Akko Tower Wreck, Israel: A clue to the sailing route of the ship

A. Bar, M. Olivarius, L. O. Boldreel, E. Sheldon, Y. Mart, D. Cvikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Akko Tower Wreck is the remains of a 25-m-long merchant brig, dated to the first half of the 19th century, found in the ancient port of Akko in Israel. The ship's remains were covered with a significant amount of dark grey marlstones to argillaceous limestones with white calcite veins, apparently used as ballast. Petrographic studies of ballast stone samples including optical microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy showed the presence of calcite, quartz and clay minerals (illite and chlorite) in all samples, and small amounts of dolomite in about half of them. Biostratigraphic analyses show that the stones are of Late Cretaceous age (Santonian-Campanian). The results confirm the homogeneous composition of the rock, which is not of local, eastern Mediterranean origin. The specific combination of lithology and depositional age enables comparison with likely provenance areas, while many of which can be ruled out on this basis. It is therefore possible that the sailing route of the ship extended to the western Mediterranean, the Adriatic, or theoretically even as far north as Normandy or eastern England. The estimated total weight of the stones was about 30 tons, which would have been an adequate ballast weight for a brig of these dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101911
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Akko
  • Ballast
  • Biostratigraphy
  • Petrography
  • Provenance
  • Shipwreck

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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