An international team of underwater archeologists reported on Friday, October 10th that is has recovered a number of objects including tableware, ship components, and a giant bronze spear that was part of a life-sized warrior statue from an ancient Greek shipwreck dating back more than 2,000 years ago off the island of Antikythera.
History of the Antikythera shipwreck
The Antikythera shipwreck was first discovered by sponge divers in the spring of 1900. Since the initial discovery, archeologists have discovered a variety of artifacts such as statues, jewellery and the famous Antikythera Mechanism, a never-before-seen device believed to have been used to make astronomical predictions.
The early turn-of-the-century recovery shipwreck effort was shut down after one diver died from the bends and two more were seriously injured. The ancient Greek shipwreck had lain untouched for over a century before the current underwater archeological expedition began last month.
The shipwreck can be dated to close to 70 to 60 BC, and was apparently carrying a cargo of Greek treasures along the coast of Asia Minor to Rome. The island of Antikythera is known to be along a major Mediterranean shipping route. Researchers suspect the ship probably sank when a major storm smashed it against the island’s cliffs.
Exploring ancient Greek shipwreck using exosuit
Today’s technology makes it much easier to explore the Antikythera wreck. Modern underwater archeologists can use a powered exosuit to explore the ocean floor. The new exosuit allows divers to spend up to three hours underwater, and uses a rebreather to scrub carbon dioxide out of the exhaled air so that divers don’t have to worry about “h=the bends” anymore.
“The evidence shows this is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered,” explained Brendan Foley, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “It’s the Titanic of the ancient world.”
This new study highlighted that the shipwreck site was a lot bigger than the sponge divers from 1900 realized. Wreckage can be found strewn over 300 meters of the sea floor. Based on the size of the anchors and hull planks, archeologists calculate the huge ship was up to 50 meters long.