Inventing the Anchor The word derives from Latin ancora, which itself comes from the Greek ankura. The word dentes meaning "teeth" is frequently used to denote anchors in Greek and Latin poems. The invention of the teeth is ascribed by Pliny to the Tuscans; but Pausanias gives the credit to Midas, king of Phrygia.
Stone Rocks were obviously the first anchors and are still used today, because they are cheap and work well. This technology evolved over time from ropes tied to stones to the slightly more elegant stone with a hole in it design and finally to a stone with a hole for a rope and holes for wooden stakes for better traction on the sea floor.
More Examples Stone with rope hole andStone with rope hole holes for stakes
The Next Step With time the stone and wood stake technology evolved into wood stakes with stone anchors. Long wooden stakes would be weighted down with a stone stock to help the wood shank and fluke sink and “bite” into the sea floor.
Improving on The Design With advancements in metallurgy in the Bronze Age, lead became a popular material used in the construction of anchors. Wooden shanks and crowns would be fitted with lead stocks and flukes. Sometimes wood anchor forms would be dipped in molten lead or hallowed out and molten lead poured into them to weigh them down.
Examples Wooden Anchor Frame w/ Lead Stock, Flukes, and Throat Lead Stock
Iron the Game Changer With advancements in the mining and smelting of iron ore came the ability to make uniform mass produced anchors. Chains of iron replaced ropes in the 6th century. Many different types of iron anchors have been produced and many of these patters are still used today.
Pattern Types A- Roman Republic B- Early Imperial C- Roman Imperial D-Late Roman/ Byzantine Late Byzantine and Arab
What they mean Archaeologically Since different anchors are used in different time periods as well as differences in style by region they can be used diagnostically to help date shipwrecks, as and source them as well. But… finding an anchor does not mean a shipwreck has been found necessarily, they often get stuck and must be cut free for the ship to sail. The size of an anchor can tell you how big a ship was for example a ship of 500tons needs a 2000lb anchor.
Today Modern anchors widely very in design and material today. The older designs are still used however since they remain affective, even cement cinderblocks coated in plastic with chains attached to them can be purchased at boating stores or fashioned at home.
Resources Texas A&M Institute of Nautical Archeology The British Royal Institute of Naval History OffShoreMoorings.org The Big Anchor Project http://www.biganchorproject.com