The Greek Culture Ministry announced that archaeologists revisiting one of the most famous shipwrecks of ancient times off southern Greece  near Antikythera island have discovered fragments of bronze statues and a section of the wooden hull. According to the ministry statement, divers raised a complete arm and a section of pleated clothing from statues, and compacted metal objects that have yet to be cleaned and separated. A video titled “2017 Return to Antikythera Expedition” looks at the delicate and often hazardous work marine archaeologists do in recovering ancient gems from the depth of the seas.

The 1st-century B.C. wreck of a large freighter discovered more than a century ago  between Crete and the Peloponnese has already yielded an ancient astronomical computer — known as the Antikythera Mechanism — as well as statues and thousands of other artifacts. The latest expedition, led by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, Lund University, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was conducted between September 4 to 20, and as per previous trips to the wreck, the team did not leave disappointed.

According to Guardian, the project team, from the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and Lund University in Sweden, discovered the buried arm with a bespoke underwater metal detector which has revealed the presence of other large metal objects nearby under the seabed. “There should be at least seven statues,” Alexandros Sotiriou, a Greek technical diver on the team told the Guardian. The operation is overseen by Ageliki Simosi, director of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, which is responsible for all underwater archaeology in Greece. Brendan Foley, co-director of the excavations team at Lund University, said:

“What we’re finding is these sculptures are in among and under the boulders. We think it means a minimum of seven, and potentially nine, bronze sculptures still waiting for us down there.”

The boulders that overlie the metal objects weigh several tonnes and may have tumbled onto the wreck during a massive earthquake that shook Antikythera and surrounding islands in the 4th century AD.

The bronze arm, probably from a statue of a male, is the highlight of the team’s 2017 excavation season. Among other objects the divers recovered are a patterned slab of red marble the size of a tea tray, a silver tankard, sections of joined wood from the ship’s frame, and a human bone. Last year, the team found the skull, teeth, ribs and other bones of an individual who perished on the wreck. They have since extracted DNA from the skull and from it learned the individual’s sex and where they came from. Until those results are published, the person is known as Pamphilos after divers found the name, meaning “friend of all”, carved on a buried cup that had been decorated with an erotic scene. 

With excellent weather conditions above them, the divers managed to recover, in addition to the “orphaned” right arm, pottery shards, nails, lead sheathing fragments, and an odd metal disc, among other artifacts. Prior to this latest expedition, the Return to Antikythera project team managed to recover glassware, luxury ceramics, anchors, counterweights, tools, and even an ancient skeleton; which is currently being analyzed for DNA.