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Antikythera Shipwreck's New Artifacts Shed Light On Time of Caesar

Sep 30, 2015 04:44 PM EDT
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Scientists have found more than 50 additional old world artifacts hidden within a well-explored sunken Greek ship, the Antikythera, from 65 B.C. This time, divers recovered a bronze armrest, remains of a bone flute, fine glassware, luxury ceramics, a pawn from an ancient board game, and parts of the ship itself. These findings shed light on what the culture was like during Caesar's reign.

"Every single dive on the wreck delivers something interesting; something beautiful," Dr. Brendan Foley, a marine archeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and co-director of the project, said in a statement. "It's like a tractor-trailer truck wrecked on the way to Christie's auction house for fine art -- it's just amazing."

The 2,000-year-old shipwreck was originally found in 1900, located off the coast of the southwestern island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea. Among the treasures collected is what is thought to be the first world's first "computer," a marvel of engineerig known as the Antikythera Mechanism.

When the shipwreck was originally found by Greek sponge fishermen, they retrieved 36 marble statues of mythological heroes and gods, a life-sized bronze statue of an athlete, pieces of several more bronze sculptures, various luxury items and even skeletal remains of crew and passengers.

"This shipwreck is far from exhausted," Foley added. "Every single dive on it delivers fabulous finds, and reveals how the 'one percent' lived in the time of Caesar."

The recent treasures were found by members of an ongoing scientific excavation of the shipwreck that began in 2014. Divers used stereo cameras on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to create a high-resolution, 3D map of the site. They hope that additional finds may provide clues of the ship's final voyage and those onboard when it went down. 

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-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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