Ancient Shipwreck Reveals New Treasures

First discovered in 1900, artifacts from the Antikythera shipwreck continue to give archaeologists greater insight into ancient Greece.

First discovered in 1900, artifacts from the Antikythera shipwreck continue to give archaeologists greater insight into ancient Greece. (Brett Seymour EUA/ARGO)

Ancient Shipwreck Reveals New Treasures

An ancient shipwreck may may reveal new clues into the lives of Greek aristocracy. A bone flute and a bronze armrest are now among the latest discoveries found in the wreckage of the sunken Greek ship of Antikythera, dated to around 65 B.C.

The Antikythera shipwreck is the same famous site from which the Antikythera Mechanism was uncovered. Widely considered to be the world’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism was used to predict eclipses and track stars and planets.

A photo of the famous Antikythera Mechanism, thought to be one of the world's earliest 'computers'. (Discovery)

A photo of the famous Antikythera Mechanism, thought to be one of the world’s earliest ‘computers’. (Discovery)

Understanding the Grecian Upper-Class

In many ways, the Antikythera shipwreck is the archaeological gift that keeps on giving. Dr. Brendan Foley, co-director of the 2015 expedition and a marine archaeologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), revealed, “This shipwreck is far from exhausted. Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the ‘1 percent’ lived in the time of Caesar.”

According to a press release from WHOI, Greek sponge fisherman originally came across the wreckage in 1900, retrieving, “36 marble status of mythological heroes and gods; a life-sized bronze statue of an athlete; pieces of several more bronze sculptures; scores of luxury items; and skeletal remains of crew and passengers.”

A Very Good Year

The 2015 expedition, which lasted from Aug. 26 until Sept. 16, also added, “fine glassware, luxury ceramics, a pawn from an ancient board game, and several elements of the ship itself,” according to WHOI reports.

Along with WHOI, the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities assisted with the enterprise, sending diving archaeologist Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou to help lead it, along with director Dr. Ageliki Simosi and field archaeologist Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis.

“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,” Dr. Theodoulou shared.

An Ongoing Research Program

Archaeology buffs can expect more discoveries from the Antikythera shipwreck in coming years. According to the WHOI press release, the 2015 expedition was the second in an ongoing research program that began last year and bears the distinction of being the first scientific excavation and first comprehensive study of the shipwreck.

Researchers said they hope to collect enough artifacts and information to totally recreate the ship’s final voyage and its priceless cargo.

What do you find most exciting about this research project? What do you hope to learn about ancient Greek culture from its discoveries?

Join us in the discussion!

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Pete Fernbaugh

Pete_Fernbaugh

Pete Fernbaugh is an experienced freelance writer, editor, and journalist who has worked primarily in the healthcare field for the last five years. He is also the co-host of Scapegoats & Straw Men, a podcast devoted to discussing in an entertaining and informative way the many logical fallacies that permeate our culture and dialogue. Pete has a passion for the mysterious and unknown, and he believes that nothing should be completely dismissed or completely accepted until the evidence is solid and credible.

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