Iron artefacts from the Akko Tower Wreck, Israel, and their contribution to the ship’s characterization

M. Cohen, D. Ashkenazi, A. Stern, Y. Kahanov, D. Cvikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Akko Tower Wreck was found inside Akko harbour, Israel, in 1966, next to the Tower of Flies, after which it was named. The shipwreck was excavated in 2012 and 2013. During the underwater excavations, two metal concretions were retrieved, X-rayed, and on opening were found to contain three almost identical iron-bound deadeyes. An iron bolt was also retrieved, covered with concretion. Metallurgical characterization was used to elucidate the manufacturing technology and to date the items. The artefacts were found to be made of annealed wrought iron. The use of wrought iron, forge-welding, and the presence of 0.1–0.2 wt.% Mn may indicate manufacturing in the mid-nineteenth century. Combined with the transition from hemp to chain cable for rigging in 1808, and by the 1840s to wire rope, all the indications are that the deadeyes were made in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The size of the deadeyes, and the dimensions of their chain links, may indicate their use at the topmast of a brig of about 160 T. This agrees with other evidence in suggesting that the Akko Tower Wreck is the remains of a European vessel which sank in Akko harbour about the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1257
Number of pages15
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank A. Gienko and I. Rosenthal of the Department of Materials Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Y. Shoef, Gabi Shoef Ltd, for their Radiographic (RT) assistance; R. Malmazada and H. Kravitz, Microtech Ltd (Israel), for their XRF assistance; S. Tuvia for cutting and machining the deadeye; D. Sanders for his advice on rigging systems; Z. Barkay, Wolfson Applied Materials Research Center, Tel Aviv University, for her SEM assistance; J. B. Tresman for the English editing; and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments The underwater excavations and research of the Akko Tower Wreck are supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 447/12), the Honor Frost Foundation, D. Shafir, a Sir Maurice Hatter Fellowship, the Rector and the Research Authority, University of Haifa, to whom the authors are grateful.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Akko Tower Wreck
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Bolt
  • Deadeye
  • Microstructure
  • Wrought iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


Dive into the research topics of 'Iron artefacts from the Akko Tower Wreck, Israel, and their contribution to the ship’s characterization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this