More than 50 items have been recovered at the site of the ancient Greek shipwreck that yielded the famous Antikythera mechanism. Working at a depth of 180 feet (55 meters), archaeologists managed to pull up the remains of a bone flute, glassware, luxury ceramics, and a bronze armrest.

The ship, which was discovered by sponge divers in 1900 off the southwestern Aegean island of Antikythera, sunk sometime around 65 BC. Early excavations yielded a spectacular haul of treasures, including bronze and marble statues, jewellery, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism—a device considered by some to be the world’s first computer.

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Image credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

Last year, archaeologists began a new set of excavations using specially designed equipment and a highly precise multi-dimensional map of the 10,500 square meters of sea floor. The underwater excavations were conducted by Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, along with help from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. The expedition ran from August 26 to September 16, preceded by an autonomous robotic mapping effort in June with help from University of Sydney researchers.

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Image credit: Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO

Owing to the intense water pressure, the 10-person dive team had to rely on advanced technical diving equipment, including closed-circuit rebreathers and trimix breathing gases. The divers were able to conduct 61 dives during the 10-day expedition.

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Image credit: Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO

Many of the artifacts were found buried beneath a thick layer of coarse sand and massive deposits of broken ceramics. Among the items discovered were the wooden remains of the hull, a section of bronze furniture (that may have been part of a throne), a bone flute, a glass “chessman” board game piece, bronze nails from the ship’s planks, and various items made from bronze, iron, glass, and ceramics.

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“We were very lucky this year, as we excavated many finds within their context, which gave us the opportunity to take full advantage of all the archaeological information they could provide,” noted diving archaeologist Theotokis Theodoulou in a statement.

Image credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

To which Foley added: “This shipwreck is far from exhausted. Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the ‘1 percent’ lived in the time of Caesar.”

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[ Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ]


Email the author at george@io9.com and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image by Greek Ministry of Culture

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