Spectacular new artifacts recovered from 2,050-year-old Antikythera Shipwreck
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.
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.
Left: The original Antikythera mechanism (Wikipedia). Right: A reconstruction of the mechanism (anthonyokeeffe.com).
Over the decades, divers have attempted to investigate the ancient shipwreck, but dangerous conditions caused by the extreme depth of the submerged vessel have hampered the investigation of the ancient site. This means that much of it still remains unexplored.
Sci-News reports that the latest expedition, named Return to Antikythera, involved a ten-man dive team that utilized advanced diving equipment and carried out more than 60 dives in 10 days. A metal detection survey revealed that buried metallic artifacts are spread over an area of 40 x 50 metres (130 x 165 feet).
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, which can be seen in the video below.
“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,” said Dr Theotokis Theodoulou, a maritime archaeologist in the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. [via Sci-News].
A series of scientific tests are now being conducted on the artifacts. Analysis of the lead recovered from the site may determine where it was mined, and therefore reveal the home port of the ship. DNA testing of the wood may also help trace the origins of the ship, and it is hoped that DNA samples retrieved from the ceramic jars may identify the food, drinks, perfumes and medicines that were once contained within them.
One thing is for certain; the ancient Antikythera shipwreck has not yet given up all its secrets.
Featured image: A diver securing an artifact found on the sea floor. Source: Screenshot / DailyMail video.