Marine archaeologist-technician Dr Brendan Foley from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution caused quite a stir while presenting the findings of the most recent underwater archaeological survey conducted at the Antikythera Shipwreck site in Greece, during the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle last week.
Dr Foley suggested that despite common and current belief, the famous Antikythera Shipwreck could actually comprise of two ships instead of one. Moreover, the sea floor could hold more artifacts like the unique Antikythera Mechanism that is on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and is shrouded with mystery about its workings and possible uses.
The Antikythera wreck is a shipwreck from the 2nd quarter of the 1st century BC. It was discovered by sponge divers off Point Glyphadia on the Greek island Antikythera in the early 1900’s and ever since has interested archaeologists and oceanographers. The wreck produced numerous statues dating back to the 4th century BC, as well as the world’s oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera Mechanism.
According to Foley, it seems that various items lie on the sea bed, such as amphorae and other artifacts that give the impression they are solid rocks made of sand. “But this is what the Antikythera Mechanism looked like before retrieved and restored,” noted Foley adding that no certain conclusions can be drawn before examining the findings and returning once again to the wreck with metal detectors this time.
The joint survey conducted by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used SCUBA re-breather technology, enabling extended dives down to a depth of 70 meters (230 ft). This new diving technology provided a fuller, complete survey of the Antikythera Wreck site, which was not previously conducted. Additionally, the divers searched deeper down a slope adjacent to the wreck’s debris field in order to locate other artifacts that may have been tossed there over the past two millennia due to storm and current activity. Foley conducted the survey with the help of other archaeologists including Theotokis Theodoulou of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
As concerns the shipwreck itself, the survey revealed that its actual length exceeded 50m, which is double the size of what was expected to be found. This new data raises the question whether the Antikythera Shipwreck included more than one wrecks.