Among Antikythera Shipwreck Finds, an Odd Item

But no new remnants of the famed Mechanism
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2016 7:57 AM CDT
Among Antikythera Shipwreck Finds, an Odd Item
The latest return to the Antikythera shipwreck has yielded some 60 new artifacts.   (Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO)

The Antikythera shipwreck is a gift that keeps on giving. First discovered in 1900 by sponge divers and dating to about 65BC, it has been explored multiple times in the decades since, including in 1976 when Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his crew surfaced with almost 300 objects, including human remains. Now a May 22-June 11 return to the shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea has yielded 60 new artifacts, including a gold ring, luxury glassware, and a bronze spear that would have been part of a statue. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which led the effort with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, also flags one particularly unusual item that may have served to protect the ship from pirates. The lead and iron artifact weighs about 220 pounds and is believed to be what's known as a "dolphin," reports the Huffington Post. The idea is that it would be dropped from high up on the mast onto an enemy ship's deck.

"Our new technologies extend capabilities for marine science," marine archaeologist Brendan Foley says, technologies that in this instance included using an autonomous robot to detail 2.6 acres of the site in advance of the dive. The AP reports none of the latest finds are linked to the shipwreck's best-known artifact, the Antikythera Mechanism, which the Atlantic calls "one of the most intriguing objects in the history of technology" and Gizmodo describes as a "freakishly advanced" analog computer more than 1,000 years ahead of its time. After 12 years of work, some 3,500 characters of text found on the bronze remnants—as delicate as phyllo dough, says Foley—have been deciphered. The team that read the text earlier this month likened the Mechanism to "a textbook of astronomy ... something that you would use to teach about the cosmos and our place in the cosmos." More on that here. (More shipwreck stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.