Bones from shipwreck may shed light on ancient Greeks' travel habits

Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:49am EDT
 
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By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Skeletal remains from a 2,000-year-old shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera are expected to reveal more about the sinking and could shed light on ancient travel habits, a culture ministry official said on Tuesday.

Discovered in 1900, the wreck has so far unearthed treasures including an astronomical calculator, which researchers said in June may also have had a fortune-telling purpose.

Part of a skull and other bones found among ceramics during the latest excavations that ended last week belonged to a person who was in the ship's hold when it sank, the ministry said.

The position of the bones in relation to other findings nearby "reveal the ship's violent sinking", the ministry said.

DNA tests are expected to provide information on the drowned person's age and gender which, if female, would add to evidence that such ships carried passengers as well as cargo, said Ageliki G. Simosi, director of the ministry's department of Underwater Antiquities.

"The DNA results will (also) give us information on ... the way the person died, whether they were smashed by the ship's cargo," she told Reuters, adding the test results were expected next month.

Skeletons of five different people, including a woman, were discovered during excavations in 1900-1901 and in 1976, she said.

A sounding lead, used to measure the sea's depth, was also found. One had also been retrieved during the 1900-1901 excavation.   Continued...