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Boshell Foundation Lecture: The Ship’s Captain Who Lost His Marbles

Thurs, Feb 29 | 6:00–7:00


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Archaeologist Deborah Carlson excavates around a monumental marble column drum on the ocean floor.

Between 2005 and 2011, underwater archaeologists from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) at Texas A&M University excavated the remains of a seagoing ship that was wrecked off the Aegean coast of Turkey at Kızılburun. This ancient ship was transporting about 60 tons of newly-quarried marble architectural elements, some of which belonged to a single, monumental Doric column. During the excavation, eight massive marble column drums, each weighing about seven tons, were raised to the surface for recording, study, and analysis. 

Chemical analysis tells us where the marble was quarried, ceramic artifacts from the ship suggest that it sank in the first century B.C., and we know where the voyage ended, but for which ancient building was this specific monumental marble column destined?

Join Deborah Carlson, INA President and director of the Kızılburun shipwreck excavation, as she explores this very question, drawing from evidence provided by ancient quarrying practices, long-distance transport by sea, and monumental marble construction in the ancient Mediterranean.

This program is generously sponsored by the Boshell Family Foundation.

About the Speaker

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Deborah Carlson is a Chicago-area native and a professor in the graduate nautical archaeology program at Texas A&M University, where she teaches courses in Greek and Roman archaeology, nautical archaeology, and ancient seafaring. She is president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, which was founded in 1973 by the “Father of Underwater Archaeology,” and Deborah’s mentor, the late George Bass. Trained as a classical archaeologist, Deborah helped excavate an ancient temple in Greece and a Roman villa in Italy, before trading in her terrestrial tools and dedicating herself full time to shipwreck archaeology.

Please note that this is an in-person event that takes place at the museum.

In accordance with state and City of Chicago guidelines, visitors to the museum are no longer required to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination. Anyone who would like to continue to wear a mask is welcome to do so. Learn more about our visiting policies and what to expect.

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Closed captioning will be available for this program. For questions related to accessibility accommodations, please email


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