Copyright Institute of Nautical Archaeology

What is possibly the world’s oldest book (shown here) and a 6.5-inch-tall bronze statuette with gold leaf (see photo of bronze statuette with gold leaf) were among the finds recovered from a 1300 B.C. shipwreck off the coast of Uluburun, in southern Turkey. Archaeologists excavated the shipwreck from 1984 to 1995 in about 150 feet of water—well within the range of ordinary scuba diving.

The two 3.5-inch-high leaves of the hinged book would have been covered with a thin layer of wax. Ancient scribes would have written on the wax with a stylus, incising the letters. The wax would then have been smoothed to allow for more writing. These wax books were likely used to record inventories or to send letters.