Rich in findings was the second period of the underwater archeological research (May 23 – June 15, 2022) at the famous Antikythera shipwreck, conducted within the five-year programme of 2021-2025.
The research is conducted by the Swiss School of Archeology in Greece, under the direction of Dr. Angeliki G. Simosi, Head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Euboea, and Lorenz Baumer, Professor of Classical Archeology at the University of Geneva, under the supervision of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. The project is under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic.
The mission began with massive rocks’ lifting, weighing many tons, which covered part of the wreck. During this phase, special lifting bags were used, with an innovative air filling system from the boat, developed by the team of Hublot Xplorations.
Among the findings are:
- Marble base of a statue that preserves both lower limbs, bare, of human form. The piece is covered with a thick crust due to which a detailed description is not possible.
- Marble head of a male bearded figure, supernatural sized, which -at first sight- is identified with the demigod Hercules of the “Farnese type”, the so-called “Hercules of Antikythera”, and probably belongs to the headless statue No. 5742 of the National Archaeological Museum, which was retrieved by spongers, during the first excavation of the shipwreck in 1900.
- The big surprise comes from the finding of two human teeth on a solid conglomerate, with traces of copper, which through its genetic material will help determine the sex and other genetic characteristics of the person to whom they belonged.
- Numerous objects from the ship’s rigging, such as bronze and iron nails, as well as the lead stock of wooden anchor and amorphous metal masses, hopefully “hiding” secrets like engravings, which can only be detected by X-ray.
The antiquities were safely transported from Antikythera to the facilities of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, properly packaged according to the instructions of the Conservation Department of the Ephorate.
In addition to the directors of the research, at the mission participated Professor Carlo Beltrame of the University of Venice, Dr. Elisa Costa, researcher at the same university, Orestis Manousos and Dr. Isaac Ogloblin, the collaborating researcher at the University of Geneva Alexandros Sotiriou, who led the field operation, divers Haris Mitrou, Nikos Giannoulakis and Dimitris Romios. Four experienced executives of the Underwater Missions Unit of the Hellenic Coast Guard, Aris Machairidis, Dimitris Hatziaslan, Dimitris Kiosis and George Lytrivis took also part.
For the underwater research and excavation, dives were made by specialized diving personnel, using mixed gas diving devices. In addition to the divers of the Coast Guard, scientific and technical staff of the research and development department of Hublot, as well as the special ship TYPHOON, provided by the Athanasios K. Laskaridis Public Benefit Foundation, assisted in the diving project.
The diving effort was supported by the Typhoon crew under the coordination of ret. Rear Admiral Alexandros Palatianos and from the Hublot Xplorations team with Mathias Buttet, Michel Blumenthal, Aloïs Aebischer and Diego Carven. The research was supervised by the diving architect of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, Aikaterini Tagonidou.
The Faculty of Sciences of the University of Geneva (Laboratory of Crystallography and Department of Earth Sciences) provided laboratory equipment for on-site analyses.
The Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation continues to proudly support research at the Antikythera Shipwreck since 2012 and is one of its main sponsors, along with the Swiss watchmaker Hublot. It contributes to the dissemination of research results, while it has presented in special exhibitions the findings that emerged from the latest excavations in the area.
The research was also supported by the Swiss Nereus Research Foundation, which was founded with the main purpose of supporting Antikythera research, as well as Cosmote as the research communication sponsor.
Thanks are due personally to Panos Laskaridis and the Mayor of Kythera Efstratios Charchalakis, for the continuous support of the archaeological research. The residents of Kythera and Antikythera are regular supporters of the programme.
The underwater excavation will continue in the autumn and there is a belief that new and very important findings will emerge.
Official website of the research program: antikythera.org.gr