Antikythera Shipwreck: Scientists Recover Fascinating Artifacts From Ancient Greek Ship

Exactly a year after a previous expedition to the Antikythera shipwreck off the Greek coast, archaeologists returned to the site of the one of the world’s most talked about shipwrecks to unravel more mysteries from the past. Researchers excavating the famous ancient Greek shipwreck have managed to recover more than 50 items from the ship, including an armrest made of bronze, a bone flute, fine glassware, and a pawn that was believed to be used in an ancient board game. Several parts of the the ship itself were also recovered, reports UPI.

The latest underwater excavation project involved several internationally acclaimed archaeologists, some of whom spent several hours underwater along with divers to excavate and bring the artifacts back to the surface. This was the first time archaeologists dove underwater along with professional divers to the site of the shipwreck, a press release issued by the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution confirms.

According to project co-director Brendan Foley, who is a marine archaeologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the ship still holds several mysteries.

“This shipwreck is far from exhausted. Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the ‘1 percent’ lived in the time of Caesar.”

The group of researchers started off this year’s expedition in late August. They scanned an area measuring over 10,500 square meters from August 26t to September 16. The plan was to spend more time underwater than what they managed to do in previous expeditions and with over 40 hours of bottom time, they were able to achieve that. Prior to the actual expedition, another team of researchers from the University of Sydney participated in an effort to map the area. The data received from that mapping expedition was used extensively for the latest expedition.

A robotic mapping effort being conducted by University of Sydney, earlier this year
A robotic mapping effort being conducted by University of Sydney, earlier this year

Apart from the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution, another organization that was an active part of the 2015 expedition was the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. Its director, Dr. Ageliki Simosi, and field archaeologists Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou and Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis were also involved in the project.

Dr. Theodoulou was quoted in the official press release, saying, “We were very lucky this year, as we excavated many finds within their context, which gave us the opportunity to take full advantage of all the archaeological information they could provide.”

The Antikythera shipwreck dates back to around 65 B.C and was first discovered back by a group of greek fishermen back in 1900, well over a century ago. The Antikythera shipwreck gets its name from the island of Antikythera located on the Aegean Sea.

Apart from salvaging 36 marble statues of Greek mythological gods and heroes, other interesting objects that researchers have so far managed to recover from the ship include several bronze sculptures, luxury items and remains of several passengers and crew onboard the ship. The most interesting object, however, was a fragment of what is now referred to as the Antikythera Mechanism, thought to be the world’s first computer. The Antikythera Mechanism was a complex system that involved gears and several moving parts. While its real usage remains clouded in mystery, researchers believe it was used as a device to encode the movements of stars and planets.

Antikythera Shipwreck 2015
This is the is Antikythera Mechanism – believed to be an ancient analog computer.

The current expedition to the site of the Antikythera shipwreck is part of a long-term expedition to the famous site that began in 2014. Researchers hope to find out the origins of the ship, details about its voyage, and the circumstances under which it sank to the bottom of the sea.

It is estimated that even at today’s rate of progress, it would take a few years for researchers to fully demystify the complete story behind the Antikythera shipwreck.

[Images Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO, Brendan Foley, Tilemahos Efthimiadis Via Wikimedia Commons]

Comments