The Antikythera Shipwreck Exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum

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The so-called Antikythera Youth, a famous statue found in the shipwreck

This exhibit was supposed to end in April, but it was extended. Good thing. Had I missed this I would have been angry.

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A bronze arm off a statue, found in the wreck

The Antikythera shipwreck, from 60-50 B.C. but carrying materials from the 4th to the 1st century B.C. Materials were recovered 1900/1901 and in 1976 off the coast of the small island of Antikythera, just about half way between the Peloponnese and Crete. An assortment of statuary, glass and coins were recovered. What was also recovered was what has been called the “Antikythera Mechanism.”

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The front of the Antikythera Mechanism

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The back of the Antikythera Mechanism

When recovered, the mechanism was dismissed as a modern piece of technology that had fallen off a ship centuries later and settled on the wreck, but not everyone was satisfied with this view. In 1971, x-ray analysis revealed inscriptions in the koine (common) Greek of the Hellenistic world. Further analysis has determined that the mechanism was made around 100 B.C. in the Greek world.

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Model from the 1930s of the individual gears in the Antikythera Mechanism

Some people thought that it was some type of cosmic clock, tracing the movements of the stars and planets. It is now called the world’s first analog computer, but there were probably earlier versions of the machine made during the Hellenistic Age.

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A statue of Odysseus, the marble destroyed by salt water and organisms

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Close-up of the Odysseus statue

The marble statuary were severely damaged by centuries under water, subject to salt corrosion and organisms that feed on marble. Nonetheless, many of the statues are recognizable. Only those parts of statues that were buried in the mud were preserved.

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A statue of Hermes. Notice that his face is intact, meaning that the front of the head was buried in the mud; the rest of the statue has been severely damaged

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A beautiful glass bowl, one of many pieces of glass recovered from the wreck

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Another beautiful glass piece

The exhibit was really nice, but extremely busy and crowded. Had I realized how popular this would be, I would have gone when the museum opened. Right outside the doors, a woman sat at a table with the big catalog of the exhibit for 46 euros. There was also a small booklet on the exhibit for 5 euros. Both were in Greek and English.

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A piece of the ship’s hull, found down in the mud, from 220 B.C.


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