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Anchors and Anchor Stocks from the National Museum of History Collection

The National Museum of History owns a collection of ancient anchors and their details. It is the richest collection in the world of a museum which is not situated on a sea – shore. The National Museum of History replenishes it continuously and at the present moment the collection grows up to 156 items. The exhibits are made of stone or lead and the most ancient ones date back to the 3rd – 1st millennium BC. They are mainly from the aquatory (sea area) of the town of Sozopol (the antique Apollonia Pontica).
The museum presents models of the earliest stone anchors and anchor stocks. The stone anchors had one, two or three openings (one of them was used for tying, and wooden arms with sharpened ends were positioned into the rest openings). This group is a proof of the ancient coastal navigation along the Thracian seaside of the Black Sea. The exhibits also confirm one of the earliest written reports on the ancient navigation, the so – called Talassocracy or Sea Domination (the 11th century BC). According to the ancient author Diodorus Siculus in the 1st century BC the Thracians controlled the seas almost a century – a long time ago the Egyptians, Phoenicians and other sea nations.
The anchor stocks, most often arch – shaped, were attached to the upper part of the anchor bobbin (stem) and mounted on the anchor arms to be perpendicular to them. For that purpose there is a groove tooled across one of the anchor stocks sides. The wooden anchor stem had been gripped and fastened to it. At first the anchor stocks were made of stone and later – of lead as well. They contributed to the right positioning of the anchor. Their function is to tip the anchor in such a way as to let one of the feet sink in the seabed bottom. In the autumn of 2012 a stone anchor stock (2.10 metres in length; 0.36 metres in width) from the aquatory (sea area) of the town of Sozopol entered the collection of the National Museum of History. It is the largest one in our collection (according to its dimensions), but is one of the biggest antique anchor stocks in general. The large models of the collection, mainly lead anchor stocks, measure up weight above 300kg. They belonged to ships which could ship 1000 amphorae of wine.
Anchors and anchor stocks made of wood, stone or lead continued to be used even after the invention of the iron anchors in the 7th century BC. They were used up to the middle of the 19th century.
In 2013 the Associated Professor Ivan Hristov, the Deputy – Director of the National Museum of History, published a catalogue of the collection. The Antique Stone Anchors, Stone and Lead Anchor Stocks from the Collection of the National Museum of History Catalogue includes 155 pieces available at that moment.