A solid copper spear with a butt cap called a sauroter (Greek for “lizard killer”) believed to have been part of a metal or marble sculpture, a copper ring fastened to a copper nail, the lead lower portion of an anchor (from the wreck found in 2013), a hoop, a copper bedpost, and an intact earthenware vessel are according to the ministry of culture the most recent items salvaged from the ancient shipwreck in dives that began on 15 September.
Other items brought to the surface include a piece of lead plating from the ship’s hull. According to the ministry the fact that close by there is another position with stacked amphorae is raising the question whether this part of the same ship, or another that went down in a separate incident. The issue is still unclear despite the extensive mapping of the underwater site carried out over the past few days.
Tassoulas receives team excavating sunken Antikythera shipwreck
Culture Minister Constantine Tassoulas on Thursday received the team of archaeologists that conducted the latest round of underwater exploration at the Antikythera shipwreck site, congratulating them on the successful completion of their mission for this year.
A ministry announcement said that Tassoulas highlighted the scientific significance of their work and praised the excellent public-private cooperation that had helped finance the programme, calling it exemplary.
The latest round of exploration conducted by Greece’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities with the support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from September 15 until October 7 was completed successfully, in spite of difficulties caused by strong northerly winds blowing in the area of the shipwreck.
During this time, researchers were able to precisely map the location of the shipwreck and create 3-D models of the seabed and the wreck using stereocameras and sonar. These were plugged into a Geographic Information System (GIS) that also included all facts known from the salvage of the 1900s and the exploration carried out in 1976 by undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, Greek volunteers and the Calypso crew, under the supervision of Greek archaeologist Dr. Lazaros Kolonas.
During the exploration carried out this year, the team used metal detectors to determine the layout of the wreck and distribution of debris, as well any artifacts near the surface. This led to the location and salvage of a bronze spear with a sauroter (spear butt spike) that is believed to come from a bronze or marble statue, a bronze ring on a bronze nail, possibly with wood from the shipwrecked vessel attached, a small piece of lead sheeting that may have lined the bottom of the ancient vessel and a part of the anchor, as well as other finds, among them an almost intact pitcher.
The mission has helped clarify the precise spatial distribution of the shipwreck and its proximity to a second location, where piles of amphorae and evidence of ship structures and equipment were found, generating questions about whether this is an extension of the first shipwreck or the remains of a second.
Planned dives using a robotic Exosuit could not be completed and were confined to test dives on a single day due to bad weather conditions. However, a clearer picture of the shipwreck site has emerged and new diving techniques and technical equipment mean it is possible to plan the next step by researchers for a systematic excavation of the site.
Attending Thursday’s meeting were the head of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Dr. Aggeliki Simossi and archaeologists Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou and Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis, as well as Dr. Brendan Foley from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions, Alexandros Tourtas, a graduate of naval archaeology from the University of Southampton and Dr. Yanis Bitsakis, a member of the Antikythera Mechanism research team.
The Roman-era ship that foundered off the island of Antikythera was first discovered by sponge divers in the early 20th century and has since yielded some of the most unique archaeological artifacts ever discovered, among them the 2000-year-old Antikythera Mechanism, which has been dubbed the world’s first ‘analog’ computer.
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