Science & Environment

Antikythera wreck yields new treasures

Antikythera shipwreck Image copyright B.Seymour/Return to Antikythera 2014
Image caption A diver recovers a ceramic table jug and a bronze rigging ring

An international expedition says it has made further, remarkable finds at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck.

The vessel, which dates from 70-60BC, was famously first identified by Greek sponge divers more than 100 years ago.

Its greatest treasure is the remains of a geared "computer" that was used to calculate the positions of astronomical objects.

The new archaeological investigations have retrieved tableware, ship components, and a giant bronze spear.

This weapon was probably attached to a warrior statue, the dive team believes.

Image copyright B.Seymour/Return to Antikythera 2014
Image caption The spear probably belonged to a giant statue

Previous expeditions have found several such statues made of bronze and marble.

The new excavation effort, which ran from 15 September to 7 October, was led by the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, Greece, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, US.

The wreck is in 55m of water and requires divers use rebreathers. Even so, their time on the bottom is limited to just three hours.

As a consequence, the expedition witnessed the first use of a new robotic Iron Man-like diving apparatus called the Exosuit. This enables its occupants to stay down for up to 50 hours, if necessary.

The team plans to return next year. It is believed many more treasures await discovery.

There has been speculation that the vessel, which was probably travelling from the coast of Asia Minor to Rome when lost, was carrying a soon-to-be-married woman and her dowry.

WHOI marine archaeologist Brendan Foley recently told the BBC that he hoped to find additional parts to the Antikythera Mechanism, or other automata.

Image copyright B.Seymour/Return to Antikythera 2014
Image caption This year's expedition saw the first use of the "Iron Man" Exosuit diving system

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