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An International Corps of Exploration: My Interview With Dr. Harun Ozdas

Dr. Harun Ozdas
Institute for Exploration / Ocean Exploration Trust

The Corps of Exploration is an international effort, supported by the work of scientists and engineers from all over the world.  I recently had a chance to sit down with one of the three scientists on Nautilus who are from our host country, Turkey.

Harun Ozdas, a doctor of archeology, is the director of the Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology at Dokuz Eylul University in İzmir, Turkey.

Harun has a bachelor's degree in protohistory and Near-Eastern archeology and a masters in classical archeology from Hacettepe University in Ankara.  His doctoral degree is in Anatolian ship types, so he is uniquely qualified to assist in identifying the various designs of ships used by the ancient seafaring cultures in the region.

Dr. Ozdas has been working as a professional underwater archeologist since in 1968.  In the 1980s, he worked with National Geographic documenting the wreck of a ship, which archeologists call Uluburun, off the coast of modern-day Kas.  Uluburun is the oldest Bronze Age ship yet discovered.  Harun also collaborated with Dr. Robert Ballard on another expedition to the Black Sea to show that some areas that are now submerged once supported human settlements, before the region flooded at the end of the last ice age.  Dr. Ozdas is currently working on an inventory of the known shipwrecks in Turkish waters.

On this season’s cruise, Dr. Ozdas is travelling aboard Nautilus both as a scientist and as an official representative of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.  He was on the ship when she aided in the recovery of the bodies of two Turkish Air force pilots, and he will be disembarking when Nautilus completes her operation in the Black Sea near the end of July.

Dr. Ozdas enjoys the collaboration between representatives of the many different disciplines aboard Nautilus, and he is impressed to find such a concentration of expert and accomplished people all in one place.  For most of his career, Harun has employed a traditional approach to archeology, which involved relatively brief filed work followed by a long and sometimes inefficient process of library research.  But he believes that Dr. Robert Ballard’s approach of bringing the top experts in various fields together with the most advanced technology will greatly speed the pace of archeological research, which is good, because Dr. Ozdas believes that the most important archeological discoveries in the Black Sea have yet to be made!