Antikythera Shipwreck Yields 50 More Treasures

Antikythera Shipwreck
Archaeologists excavated the famous ancient Greek shipwreck Antikythera and so far have recovered more than 50 items.

The Antikythera shipwreck, dubbed as the “Titanic of the Ancient World,” has given marine archaeologists even more treasures. Last month, experts went back to the southwestern Aegean island where the shipwreck occurred sometime around 65 BC as part of its ongoing research program which started last year.

The Antikythera wreck is a shipwreck dating from 1st century BC. It was discovered by sponge divers off Point Glyphadia on the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. The wreck since then yielded numerous statues, coins and other artifacts dating back to the 4th century BC.

The ten-man dive team composed of professional divers and archaeologists were able to unearth valuable pieces such as a bone flute, a board game piece, fine glassware, lead salvage ring, an amphora, a couple of lead anchor stocks and lead hull sheathing. Other treasures excavated from the area include a table jug and an armrest made of bronze that was believed to be part of a throne.

The objects, which were scattered in an area of 40 x 50 meters gave a clue as to size of the ancient ship. Using metal detectors, the team was able determine the location of the finds. There were four archaeologists in this year’s dive team who did controlled scientific excavation of the seafloor where the wreck lies. Using advanced technical diving equipment that included closed-circuit rebreathers and trimix breathing gases, they spent a total of 40 hours in the field.

In the course of 10 days, the team did a total of 61 dives which gave them a better understanding of the wreck. The expedition, which took place from August 26 to September 16, was far longer than the one conducted last year.

In 2014, the divers were able to make a 3D map of the site and recovered items on the surface sediment. That exploration, which only included four dive days due to bad weather also concluded that most of the cargo was still underneath the sand.

The recent expedition had the dive team excavating nine trenches in the seabed with a submersible pump-powered powered water dredge. Most of the finds recovered were buried underneath sand and broken ceramics.

The shipwreck was first discovered in the 1900 by Greek sponge fishermen. Aside from unearthing 36 marble statues, one of their most important finds in the wreck at that time was fragments of what was considered as the world’s first ever computer—the Antikythera Mechanism. This device tracked planetary movements and stars and also predicted the occurrence of eclipses. The long-term research initiative into Antikythera was initiated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution together with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.

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