Significant Discoveries at the Antikythera Wreck: 2024 Excavation Insights

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The 2024 excavation season at the Antikythera wreck, held from May 17 to June 20, marked a significant milestone in the ongoing research overseen by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG) and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports’ Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. Favorable weather conditions enabled the team to make remarkable discoveries, including a well-preserved piece of the ship’s hull.

Major Discoveries

The most significant find of the 2024 trip was a structural part of the ancient ship, complete with its original fasteners and external protective coating. The unbroken planks and frames, still in their original positions, indicate that the ship was built using the “shell first” approach, which involves constructing the hull before adding the ribs. This discovery challenges modern shipbuilding techniques that follow the opposite approach.

Importance of the Discovery

Professor Lorenz Baumer of the University of Geneva (UNIGE), co-director of the project with Dr. Angeliki G. Simosi, emphasized the importance of this finding. He stated that the structure allows for a better understanding of the ship’s construction features, which had remained inaccessible until now. This discovery also helps pinpoint the exact location and orientation of the wreck.

Comprehensive Methodology and Additional Findings

The research team employed a comprehensive methodology to identify and document visible pottery remains, dividing the region into two sections 200 meters apart. This year’s research revealed a second wooden vessel in the secondary area, distinguished by a concentration of pottery identical to that of the first site. Continuous excavation trenches in both regions uncovered various archaeological items, including approximately 300 pieces. Among these were 21 marble fragments, various structural elements from the ship’s hull, and nearly 200 ceramic shards. The marble fragments suggest the presence of multiple sculptures, while the amphorae examination revealed a wide range of types, including those from Chios and Rhodes, some waterproofed with Mastic.

Technological Enhancements

Remotely operated vehicles closely monitored the underwater operations, enabling real-time coordination and the creation of 3D digital models of the designated locations. The introduction of closed-circuit mixed-gas rebreathers improved the efficiency and safety of dives.

Historical Context and Future Insights

The Antikythera shipwreck, located in the Aegean Sea in Greece, dates back more than 2,000 years and was discovered by sponge divers in 1900. Professor Baumer emphasized the distinctive nature of this shipwreck, which sank between 80 and 60 B.C. and is regarded as one of the richest ancient commerce ships discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean. The site has yielded several marble statues and the famed Antikythera mechanism, an antique mechanical calculator discovered in 1901.

Baumer highlighted that his team’s goal is to fully understand the shipwreck and wreckage. The wooden parts recovered this year are expected to provide more information about the ship’s construction date and origin. The ship’s location, 45 to 70 meters below sea level, has helped preserve it.

The 2024 discoveries have opened new paths for investigation, promising additional insights into ancient maritime history and ship construction processes. This exceptional excavation season has undoubtedly improved the understanding of this important archaeological site.

Remarkable Discoveries

The 2024 excavation season at the Antikythera wreck, conducted from May 17 to June 20, marked a significant milestone in the ongoing research program overseen by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (ESAG) and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports’ Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. Favorable weather conditions allowed the team to uncover remarkable finds, including a well-preserved piece of the ship’s hull. The most significant discovery was a structural part of the ancient ship with its original fasteners and external protection.

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Source: Marine Insight