05 October 2017

Antikythera Shipwreck Yields Bronze Arm

Marine archaeologists have recovered a bronze arm from an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, where the remains of at least seven more priceless statues from the classical world are believed to lie buried. Divers found the right arm, encrusted and stained green, under half a metre of sediment on the boulder-strewn slope where the ship and its cargo now rest. The huge vessel, perhaps 50m from bow to stern, was sailing from Asia Minor to Rome in 1BC when it foundered near the tiny island between Crete and the Peloponnese. The project team, from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and Lund University in Sweden, discovered the buried arm with a bespoke underwater metal detector which has revealed the presence of other large metal objects nearby under the seabed.

The Antikythera wreck first came to light in 1900 when Greek sponge divers happened on the scene in 50 metres of water. Archaeologists have since pulled up spectacular bronze and marble statues, ornate glass and pottery, stunning pieces of jewellery, and a remarkable geared device – the Antikythera mechanism – which modelled the motion of the heavens. During the 2017 excavations, divers recovered a bronze disc that may be a missing part of the ancient device. But it is the statues that made the wreck famous. In the 1900s, archaeologists working at the site surfaced pieces of a beautiful Hellenistic bronze, named the Antikythera Youth. The statue now stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens alongside an impressive bronze head named the Antikythera philosopher, also hauled from the wreck.

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