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Ancient Greek shipwreck reveals remarkable artifacts from 65 BC

Ancient shipwreck explored

Dating from 65 B.C., the shipwreck was found by Greek sponge fisherman in 1900. It’s a treasure trove of artifacts and has become more so of late as a multinational expedition, including marine archaeologists from America and Greece, have revisited the site to map and explore it.

They have brought up dozens of artifacts and created a 3D map of the site that a press release from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) said was created using “stereo cameras mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle.” They now have a clearer picture of what lays down there after mapping some 10,500 square meters of sea floor.

“This shipwreck is far from exhausted,” project co-Director Dr. Brendan Foley of WHOI said. “Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the ‘1 percent’ lived in the time of Caesar.”

The Antikythera Mechanism

When first discovered 115 years ago, the site, near the southwestern Aegean island of Antikythera, revealed such treasures as 36 marble statues of gods and mythological figures and other statues and sculptures. The skeletal remains of humans were also found.

At that time the shipwreck also gave up what is considered to be the world’s first known analog computer, a clockwork-like mechanism called the Antikythera Mechanism. WHOI calls it a “a geared mechanical device that encoded the movements of the planets and stars and predicted eclipses.” Often called “a device out of time” is now on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

This latest exploration of the shipwreck is the first truly scientific evacuation of the debris field and marine archaeologists have been able to ascertain that the majority of artifacts are still down. Where exactly? Buried underneath the sediment on the sea’s floor, waiting to be dug out.

Of the expedition’s finds so far, WHOI said they’ve “recovered more than 50 items including a bronze armrest (possibly part of a throne), the remains of a bone flute, fine glassware, luxury ceramics, a pawn from an ancient board game, and several elements of the ship itself.”

The expedition expects to bring up artifacts for a long time to come.

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