Antikythira wreck reveals more treasure

Brett Seymour /EUA/ARGO 2017 The bronze disc, which researchers at first thought might contain some of the lost gears of the Antikythera mechanism. - via Nature.com

National Geographic — Greece’s Division of Underwater Antiquities announced their finds Wednesday after several weeks of excavations off the coast of Antikythera,180 feet below the sea.

The  Antikythera shipwreck can yield insights into Roman culture during its heyday.

“[Marine archaeologists] have found a very big treasure of statues of marble and bronze and other items,” said expedition co-leader Aggeliki Simossi.

According to Simossi, the first century B.C. merchant ship would have been bound for Rome, where wealthy members of Roman society decorated their villas with Grecian art. Large for its time, the ship measured roughly 130 feet long, meaning a large stash of artifacts was on board when it set sail for Italy.

While the statues would likely have been considered high art in their day, perhaps the most intriguing artifact found is a small, bronze disk. Punctuated with holes and decorated with the image of a bull, it’s unclear what the disk was used for, said Simossi.

While Simossi said this year’s field work yielded a bigger haul than previous years, the Antikythera shipwreck has been the archaeological gift that keeps on giving. It was first discovered in 1900 by sponge divers, who spotted limbs from bronze statues.

According to Simossi, the wreck contains the most cargo of any known ship remains in the Mediterranean. The slow, painstaking work of combing through the wreckage means more discoveries are possible there.