Nejat Göyünç

Keywords: Tigris River, Euphrates River, Ottoman, Transport, Ship, History

Abstract

In the second half of the 16th century, the Ottomans were constructing ships at Birecik on the Euphrates River. Cengiz Orhonlu and Turgut Işıksal executed the first significant studies on these types of ships, which more often used as a transport vessel, and the shipping that was conducted here. The present study, which reviews their studies in the light of records newly brought to light, discloses that this kind of shipping had persisted since very ancient times and that it continued to maintain its position during the Ottoman period. In particular, important information is contained in Ottoman records regarding the shipping vessel-made from an inflated skin and called kelek -and its utilization over the centuries. A great number of travelers has drawn attention to this situation. It played a leading role in the local economy. This transport vessel resembled a hollowed-out dipper gourd, cut into two lengthwise, and which because the bottom was flat could be easily be pulled up on the shore; it could possess dimensions sufficient to carry two tons of cargo, eight to ten passengers, and three or four beasts of burden.