Mysterious Bronze Disc Found at 2,000-Year-Old Antikythera Shipwreck Resembles Ancient ‘Computer’

By Tara MacIsaac, Epoch Times
October 4, 2017 2:45 pm Last Updated: October 6, 2017 3:34 pm

More than a century ago, a device now known as the Antikythera mechanism was found near a Roman shipwreck from the 1st century B.C. It could calculate astronomical changes with precision. It has baffled archaeologists with its sophistication, far beyond anything expected from so long ago.

The Antikythera Mechanism is a 2000-year-old mechanical device used to calculate the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and even the dates of the ancient Olympic Games. (Wikimedia Commons)

Marine archaeologists are now further exploring the wreck, off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea, and bringing up exciting artifacts. On Oct. 4, they announced the discovery of a bronze disc shaped like the Antikythera mechanism.

Hoping it might be part of the ancient “computer,” they examined it via x-ray. Instead of the hoped-for gears, however, under the hardened layer of sediment they found the likeness of a bull. The team will examine it in more detail in the weeks to come. It seems it was a decorative element.

Archaeologist Brendan Foley holds a bronze disc at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck. (Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO)
Archaeologist Brendan Foley holds a bronze disc at the site of the Antikythera shipwreck. (Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO)
(Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO)
(Brett Seymour, EUA/ARGO)
An x-ray image of the bronze disc found at the Antikythera shipwreck. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture/EUA)
An x-ray image of the bronze disc found at the Antikythera shipwreck. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture/EUA)

Archaeologists found unique statues.

Other significant finds include parts of bronze statues. Bronze statues from the ancient world are rare, and most have been altered over the years. Studying these unaltered statues may yield great insights into the ancient culture that produced them.

Archaeologists may learn more about casting methods and the techniques of sculpting, but also about the social contexts that created the statues if they are able to identify whom the statues depict.

The arm of a bronze statue found at the Antikythera shipwreck site. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports)
The arm of a bronze statue found at the Antikythera shipwreck site. (Hellenic Ministry of Culture/EUA)

They also found human remains.

Last year, human remains were found at the site. Regarding DNA analysis of the remains, marine archaeologist Brendan Foley with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said in a press release: “Archaeologists study the human past through the objects our ancestors created. … With the Antikythera shipwreck, we can now connect directly with this person who sailed and died aboard the Antikythera ship.”

Excavations in 2016 at the Antikythera Shipwreck produced a nearly intact skull, including the cranial parietal bones. (Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO)

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