The Antikythera Shipwreck And What It Has Hold Us About Ancient Shipbuilding And Art.

846 words - 3 pages

The Antikythera mechanism has been one of the most intriguing finds of the twentieth century. It has shed light on the true complexity of ancient technology and made us rethink our perceptions about Greek mechanics. All from a lump of bronze abandoned in an Athens museum thought to be of little value.The antikythera mechanism was discovered by a group of Greek sponge divers in 1901 off the coast of antikythera. However, they were not searching for ancient wrecks at all, but rather were blown off course by a freak Mediterranean storm. Once the storm abated, the captain decided to send a diver down to make use of the time.Once the diver descended into the bay, he came across an ancient wreck that he mistakenly believed to be a heap of bodies. Mistaking the heads of statues poking above the sandy bottom as corpses, he surfaced in a panic. However, the captain, undaunted by his divers report, sent another diver to investigate the site. The second diver correctly identified the “heads” as statues.The captain and crew returned to the Greek mainland and did not report the wreck for an entire year. Some have speculated they returned several times to loot the site and sell the recovered artifacts on the Alexandrian antiquities market. Regardless, they reported the find to the Greek Government in 1901 and were commissioned to take part in the retrieval.During the course of the excavation the antikythera mechanism received little attention. The true complexity of it was not known as it was in a state of heavy encrustation and believed to be a simple astrolabe, a common navigational tool found in many in wrecks. It was also overshadowed by numerous other finds from the site, including the well known “antikythera youth” and “philosophers head” that now reside in the Athens Museum. After recovering more than 30 statues of marble and bronze, and several pieces of fine glassware, the excavation was terminated after the death of two divers. The antikythera mechanism, itself, was taken to the Athens Museum and left in a storeroom not on display to the public.The wreck sat unexplored until 1959 when Peter Throckmorton and George Bass undertook a new examination of the site. Although they did not retrieve any significant artifacts, they did complete a survey of the site.Several planks of wood from the ship itself were recovered, preserved by the sandy bottom of the sea, that have allowed up to reconstruct the ship with an adequate degree of accuracy. They ship was built in a shell first manner, with...

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