Researchers are calling it the “largest shipwreck ever discovered.” The Greek vessel was found off the coast of the island Antikythera, and it has given up a treasure trove of artifacts from the ancient world, not to mention treasure.
According to archaeologist Brendan Foley, “The evidence shows this is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered. It’s the Titanic of the ancient world.”
Foley led a team from the Theotokis Theodoulou of the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to investigate the ancient Greek shipwreck, although they did not discover it themselves.
The site was originally discovered in 1900 by sponge fisherman. They recovered jewelry, marble statues, furniture, glassware, and an ancient astronomical calculator dubbed the Antikythera Mechanism, which was only recently understood as a device that could actually calculate and predict astronomical events like a solar eclipse.
However, the shipwreck lies 55 meters (180 feet) under the Greek waters, a dangerous depth for 1900. According to History, one of the divers died and two others were paralyzed from the bends. The site was considered too risky to explore further, although a few divers still managed to rummage through the Greek shipwreck, like Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s. Nevertheless, no one was able to understand the extent of the find until the most recent team.
Not only were they able to find even more artifacts, they were able to measure the size of the ship using 3D modeling technology. According to the WHOI, the Greek ship was 50 meters (164 feet) long, a length that seems to be corroborated by the discovery of large anchors about three feet long. To put that in comparison, the Titanic was 269 meters (882 feet) long and 28 meters (92 feet) wide. Still, for ancient times, that was a massive ship. The shipwreck itself covers an area of about 300 meters across the Greek seafloor.
The researchers believe that the ship probably sank sometime between 60 BC and 70 BC on its way to Rome. In that period of history, Greece was in a state of decline, as the Roman empire gobbled up Greek cities in various conquests.
Among the artifacts the team discovered was a table jug and a bronze spear. The spear may have been part of the marble statues discovered by the sponge fisherman more than a century ago.
The team plans to return to the Greek shipwreck next year, hoping to find even more incredible artifacts from the a dig site that is as large as it is fascinating.
[Image Credit: Brendan Foley/Wikimedia Commons]