Marine Archaeologists Discover Ancient Luxury Goods From Antikythera Shipwreck
The Greek shipwreck that had provided scientists with an ancient analog computer known as the Antikythera Mechanism has yielded more than 50 additional artifacts from the old world including luxury ceramics, fine glassware, fragments of a bone flute, a bronze armrest, an ancient board game piece and the remains of the vessel itself.
Marine archaeologist Dr. Brendan Foley from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said that despite the relatively large amount of treasures found at the site, the Antikythera shipwreck is yet to be exhausted.
He said that every dive made to the shipwreck has provided them with remarkable discoveries. It also reveals how the rich people had lived during the time of Caesar.
The Antikythera shipwreck, which is believed to have been made in circa 65 B.C., was discovered in 1900 by a group of sponge fishermen from Greece. The site is located off the coast of the southwestern island of Antikythera in the Aegean.
The fishermen were able to retrieve around 36 statues of mythological gods and heroes made of marble, a statue of an athlete made of bronze, fragments of other bronze sculptures, dozens of luxury items, as well as the remains of ship's passengers and crew.
The Antikythera Mechanism, considered to be the first computer in the world, was also salvaged from the Greek shipwreck. The device made used of an early system of mechanical gears to predict eclipses in the sky and other astronomical positions for astrological and calendrical uses.
Foley and his colleagues are part of an ongoing scientific excavation of the Antikythera shipwreck that began in 2014. The researchers expect to retrieve additional artifacts and pieces of artwork from the seafloor that could help them recreate the ancient sea vessel's final voyage and reveal information on its cargo.
In 2014, scientists used stereo cameras placed onboard an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to produce a high-resolution, three-dimensional map of the site. However, the professional technical divers involved in the excavation only had four days to recover artifacts from the wreck because of bad weather.
They were able to make several discoveries on the seafloor and confirm that much of the vessel's cargo is still well-preserved beneath the surface sediment.
The recent expedition had 40 hours of diving time and included four archaeologists who joined the divers in excavating the site. They used specially designed equipment and an advanced multi-dimensional chart of the seafloor in order to carefully retrieve artifacts from the wreck.
Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou, a field archaeologist from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, said that they were fortunate to make several new discoveries this year. The expedition allowed them to take advantage of all of the archaeological information available to them.