On Sunday, scientists announced they have discovered what they believe is the marble head of Hercules, human teeth, and a trove of other artifacts related to the Antikythera shipwreck in Greece.
The Antikythera wreck is a Roman-era shipwreck dating from the second quarter of the first century BC. The wreck has yielded numerous statues, coins, and other artifacts dating back to the fourth century BC. The severely corroded remnants of a device many regard as the world’s oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism, has also been discovered.
The new findings were discovered after massive rocks weighing several tons were lifted out of the sea and exposed parts of the shipwreck not visible to date.
These include a marble base of a statue which both bear lower limbs of a human form that are preserved and covered with a thick layer of sea crust.
A massive marble head of a male, bearded figure, which at first sight is identical with the demigod Hercules of the Farnese type, the so-called “Hercules of Antikythera,” has also been unearthed. It probably belongs to the headless statue exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which was discovered by spongers in 1900.
Two human teeth were also discovered on a solid agglomerate with traces of copper, which through its genetic material, will help determine the sex and other genetic characteristics of the person to whom they belonged.
Numerous objects from the ship’s accessories are among the artifacts. These include bronze and iron nails, as well as the lead type of wooden anchor amorphous metal masses, which can only be identified by x-ray.
The Antikythera Shipwreck is the richest ancient wreck ever discovered
Greek sponge divers located the wreck by chance close to the island shore of Antikythera in 1900. They spent a year salvaging its treasures with the help of the Hellenic Navy. The divers recovered hundreds of works of art, including the fabulous bronze and marble statues that now fill galleries at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Locals on Antikythera tell tales of giant marble statues lying beyond the sponge divers’ reach. Records from the 1900 to 1901 salvage indicate at least one large marble statue which was dropped during recovery operations. There are also hints that others were dragged into deeper water under the mistaken belief they were merely boulders.
Meanwhile, ancient technology researchers and scholars wonder whether the site might be hiding another Antikythera mechanism, more pieces of the original, or at least some clues as to whom this mysterious object belonged to.
The project on the Antikythera shipwreck began in 2012 and lasted until 2019. It was initiated and conducted by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, which has been supervising the project and its expeditions since the beginning of 2021.
The project is expected to continue until 2025 and is being coordinated by the University of Geneva and the Swiss School of Archaeology ιn Greece with the collaboration of scientific institutions in Greece, Switzerland, and Italy.