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Amazing Discovery: Researchers Found 2,000-Year-Old Skeleton in Ancient Antikythera Shipwreck

Sep 20, 2016 03:47 AM EDT
rchaeological Museum, Athens - Arm from the Antikythera shipwreck
Researchers found skeletal remains of a passenger or crew member aboard the famous Antikythera shipwreck. Pictured above is a bronze arm of a boxer from the Antikythera shipwreck, which is on display in the Room 38 (bronzes) of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
(Photo : Giovanni Dall'Orto/Wikimedia Commons)

A team of international researchers, lead by archaeologists and technical experts from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), excavating the famous Antikythera shipwreck (the most ancient shipwreck ever discovered) have recovered a human skeleton that is about 2,100 years old.

The skeleton, described in a paper published in the journal Nature, is the first to be recovered from the shipwreck, which is believed to be a massive grain carrier, since the advent of DNA analysis. Using modern and advanced tools at their disposal, the scientists will be able to conduct a DNA analysis to provide insights into the lives of people who lived 2,100 years ago.

"Archaeologists study the human past through the objects our ancestors created," said Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist at WHOI, in a press release. "With the Antikythera Shipwreck, we can now connect directly with this person who sailed and died aboard the Antikythera ship."

The discovery of the skeletal remains was made last Aug. 31, 2016. The remains include a human jaw, teeth and bones from the arms, legs and ribs. While some of the bones were brought up to the surface, others still remain embedded in the sea floor and are waiting for future excavations.

The researchers believed that the skeleton belonged to a passenger or crew member that was trapped in the ship when it sank. Additionally, the preserved bones suggested that the owner was most likely buried very rapidly.

Once the Greek authorities give their permission, the skeleton will be brought to a laboratory in the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen for a full analysis. If the samples have enough preserved DNA, the researchers will be able to identify the ethnicity and geographic origin of the shipwreck victim, including its gender as well as hair and eye color.

Read More:
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Rare Discovery: Fast Facts About the Lady Washington Shipwreck Found on Lake Ontario
Scientists Explore Sunken WWII Shipwreck in California

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