Famous Antikythera Shipwreck Yields New Remarkable Discoveries


A team of researchers accomplished another impressive discovery during its ongoing excavation of the famous Antikythera Shipwreck. According to Huffington Post , over 60 priceless artifacts were pulled from the famous shipwreck during a recent expedition of the vessel. The ship sank in the Aegean Sea in approximately 65 BC.

The expedition of an international team led by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) discovered outstanding gold jewelry, glassware, resin/incense, ceramic decanters, fragments of marble sculptures, and a spear from a statue. Exploration had been accomplished during the past few weeks. Moreover, the researchers discovered an extremely curious artifact, which seems to be an ancient weapon known as a dolphin. It was used to protect the massive ship against attacks from pirates. Moreover, the team reported, that they discovered a second ancient cargo ship close by the Antikythera vessel.

Ornate glassware, perfume jars and gold jewelry were recovered from the 2,000-year-old Antikythera shipwreck. Credit: Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO.

The Return to Antikythera is a project supervised by the Director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Dr. Aggeliki Simosi and is under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos. They collaborate with WHOI, which is a non-profit, private organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine engineering, research, and higher education.

The ship was explored in 1976 by legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the CALYPSO crew returned to the wreck and recovered nearly 300 more objects, including the skeletal remains of the passengers and crew. Nowadays, the possibilities of research are much bigger due to the existence of the most modern high-tech, robots and the new methods of the laboratory analysis.

Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with WHOI, said:

“Our new technologies extend capabilities for marine science. Every new dive on the Antikythera Shipwreck delivers gifts from the ancient past. The wreck offers touchstones to the full range of the human experience: from religion, music, and art, to travel, trade, and even warfare.”

Metal detector survey of the shipwreck area, photo by Brett Seymour.

Metal detector survey of the shipwreck area, photo by Brett Seymour. Photo source: antikythera.whoi.edu.

The team precisely mapped 10,500-square-meter (2.6 acres) area of the sea floor around the wrecks with an autonomous robot. Later, the divers descended to 52 meters (170 feet) using mixed-gas and closed-circuit rebreathers to exactly locate, document, and retrieve the artifacts. Moreover, they were searching for ancient DNA from ceramic jars, to reveal what people who traveled on the ship ate and drank during their journey. The researchers created a precise three-dimensional digital model of every artifact, enabling the discoveries to be shared instantly and widely.

Exosuit (robot exo-suit with human operator inside) developed by Nuytco research.

Exosuit (robot exo-suit with human operator inside) developed by Nuytco research. Credit: American Museum of Natural History

Ancient Origins has followed the exploration of the Antikythera shipwreck since the beginning of the work. The underwater research started in September 2014 . A year later, the team informed about the results of their works. As April Holloway from Ancient Origins reported in September 28, 2015:

”Underwater archaeologists have returned to the world-famous Antikythera shipwreck in Greece and have discovered more than fifty new artifacts, including the remains of a bone flute, a bronze armrest that may be part of a throne, a pawn from an ancient board game, luxury ceramics, fine glassware, and much more.

Along with the bronze armrest, flute, and gaming piece, archaeologists also discovered fifteen relics made of lead, two anchor pieces, several wooden pieces of hull sheathing, mosaic glass, a stone statuette base, and an ornate, finely-formed table jug, known as a lagynos.

The Antikythera wreck, located off the island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea, is a famous underwater archaeological site thrown into the spotlight in 1900 when researchers discovered an incredible mechanical device, now known as the Antikythera mechanism.  The metallic device consists of at least 30 different types of gears and is so complex that many consider it to be the first human-made analogue computer. After decades of research, scientists were able to determine that it shows the positions of the sun, moon, and planets as they move through the zodiac, predicts solar and lunar eclipses, and even marked key events such as the Pan-Hellenic games. The discovery of this unique form of ancient technology, along with other treasures, including finely carved bronze and marble statues, glassware, jewellery, and coins, led researchers to wonder what else may lie within the shipwreck.”

The amazing Antikythera Mechanism found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera in Greece.

The amazing Antikythera Mechanism found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera in Greece. Credit:  Tilemahos Efthimiadis / flickr

Top image: Antikythera team members Nikolas Giannoulakis, Theotokis Theodoulou, and Brendan Foley inspect small finds from the Shipwreck while decompressing after a dive to 50 m (165 feet). (Photo by Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO

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