In 1887, Abdülhamid II decided to send the frigate Ertuğrul to Japan for a return visit after Japanese Prince Komatsu Akihito visited Istanbul.
Despite all warnings that the Ertuğrul Frigate would not be able to endure this long and difficult voyage due to its rotten condition, it set sail with 656 crew members.
The Ertuğrul Frigate, commanded by Mirliva Osman Pasha, carried a jeweled order of privilege and hundreds of other gifts to be presented to Emperor Meiji.
Arriving in Japan about 11 months later, Ertuğrul disregarded the Japanese Navy’s storm warning before the return voyage and sank after hitting land on a reef off Cape Kashinozaki on the east coast of Kusimoto.
The ship’s commander Mirliva Osman Pasha and 587 people lost their lives and 69 people survived the accident.
The Ertuğrul Frigate became a symbol of the brotherhood between Japan and the Turkish people. In 1891, Japan built a monument in Kusimoto in memory of those who died in the accident.
Sugar will be used to preserve the artifacts
Japanese experts are trying an interesting method to prevent the wear and tear of artifacts recovered from a frigate that sank on the Kii Peninsula.
Marine archaeologist Tufan Turanlı began scanning the seabed for the wreck in 2007. After the studies, he managed to collect approximately 8,000 pieces from the Ertuğrul.
In order to prevent the artifacts from disintegrating, researchers are trying to protect them with the “sugar coating” method.
Researchers from Nara University said on January 20 that they hoped their efforts would stop the further deterioration of “these symbols of bilateral ties between Japan and Turkey” to ensure that they are passed on to future generations.
Tufan Turanlı’s wife, Berta Lledo, was responsible for preserving items recovered from the wreckage. When Lledo died in 2021, Turanlı contacted Setsuo Imazu, rector of Nara University, for advice to avoid problems in preserving the artifacts.
Imazu is an expert on ways to preserve sites of cultural interest.
Nara University was entrusted with 33 artifacts from the wreckage.
Among them is a wooden pulley rescued by locals immediately after the disaster.
Given that the reel is not only made of wood, but also consists of metal fittings, rope and other parts that come together in various ways, it was difficult to protect the piece.
Imazu decided to apply a technique involving a type of sugar called trehalose to protect the nail-using parts of the reel and the wooden ship.
“The joint research will be particularly important for underwater archaeology,” Turanlı said. “I will pass on this experience to young people.”
The artifacts are expected to be exhibited at Nara University as well as the Ertuğrul Research Center in Kushimoto.