The Mystery of the Bull Disc on the Antikythera Shipwreck

Antikythera metalic acient

The Antikythera shipwreck was first revealed in 1900 when Greek sponge divers roamed the place within 50 meters of water. Archaeologists have since succeeded in attracting spectacular bronze and marble sculptures, glass and pottery ornaments, stunning jewelry, and extraordinary jagged devices, the Antikythera mechanism that can predict celestial motion. During excavations in 2017, an international team of archaeologists and divers, led by Brendan Foley from Lund University in Sweden and Theotokis Theodoulou of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Athens, re-excavated the crash site within 50 meters.

They also found an interesting bronze disc or wheel, about eight centimeters, attached to four metal arms with holes for pins. A hard sedimentary layer conceals its internal structure, but as a whole resembles the Antikythera mechanism, and researchers initially hoped to be part of that ancient device: perhaps the teeth that calculate the position of the planet, which was lost from the discovery.

"Marine archaeologists have found a huge treasure trove of marble and bronze sculptures and other items," said expedition aggregate leader Aggeliki Simossi. According to Simossi, the first century BC. merchant ships will definitely be bound to Rome, where rich members of Roman society adorn their villas with Grecian art. The ship is about 130 feet in length, large and heavy, which means an abundance of artifact deposits in the ship when they sailed to Italy.

While the statues are likely to be considered high art in their day, perhaps the most interesting artifacts found are small bronze plates. Marked with holes and decorated with bull images, it is not clear what the function of the dish is, Simossi said.

"Maybe the decoration for furniture or maybe the seal, or it could be an instrument," he said. "It's too early to say."

This is also reminiscent of the Antikythera mechanism, a small bronze disk that measures the movements of the sky with impressive accuracy. The piece was found among the remains of a ship in 2006. Its mechanism is very accurate, in fact, it is often referred to as "ancient computers". The team of archeologists, led by Simossi and archaeologist Brendan Foley from Lund University in Sweden, will continue to study the remnants of this year's catch, before returning to the shipwreck site in May 2018 for more excavations.

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