Mystery Bronze Disc of Antikythera Shipwreck

The Antikythera shipwreck first came to light in 1900 when Greek sponge divers happened on the scene in 50 metres of water. Archaeologists have since pulled up spectacular bronze and marble statues, ornate glass and pottery, stunning pieces of jewellery, and a remarkable geared device – the Antikythera mechanism – which modelled the motion of the heavens. During the 2017 excavations, an international team of archaeologists and divers, co-led by Brendan Foley of the University of Lund in Sweden and Theotokis Theodoulou of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Athens, re-excavating the 50-metre-deep wreck site. They also recovered an intriguing bronze disc or wheel, about eight centimetres across, attached to four metal arms with holes for pins. A layer of hardened sediment hides its internal structure, but it superficially resembles the Antikythera mechanism, and researchers had initially hoped that it might be part of that ancient device: perhaps the gearing that calculated the positions of the planets, which is missing from the find.

"[Marine archaeologists] have found a very big treasure of statues of marble and bronze and other items," said expedition co-leader Aggeliki Simossi.
 


According to Simossi, the first century B.C. merchant ship would have been bound for Rome, where wealthy members of Roman society decorated their villas with Grecian art. Large for its time, the ship measured roughly 130 feet long, meaning a large stash of artifacts was on board when it set sail for Italy.

While the statues would likely have been considered high art in their day, perhaps the most intriguing artifact found is a small, bronze disk. Punctuated with holes and decorated with the image of a bull, it's unclear what the disk was used for, said Simossi.

"It is maybe decoration for furniture or maybe a seal, or it could be an instrument," she said. "It is very early to say."

It's also reminiscent of the Antikythera mechanism, a small, bronze disk that measures celestial movements with impressive accuracy. That piece was found among the ship's remains in 2006. The mechanism is so accurate, in fact, that it's often referred to as an "ancient computer."

The team of archaeologists, co-led by Simossi and archaeologist Brendan Foley from Lund University in Sweden, will continue studying the remains of this year's haul, before returning to the shipwreck site in May of 2018 for more excavations.

Sources:

https://www.nature.com/news/antikythera-shipwreck-yields-statue-pieces-and-mystery-bronze-disc-1.22735

Mystery Bronze Disc of Antikythera Shipwreck Mystery Bronze Disc of Antikythera Shipwreck Reviewed by Tripzibit on October 15, 2017 Rating: 5

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