Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Antikythera shipwreck yields ancient human bones


The cargo is considered the most spectacular ever found from antiquity.
After more than 2,000 years, archaeologists have recovered the bones of a young man they call Pamphilos. In his late teens or early 20s, he was on the ship sailing from Asia Minor to Rome when disaster struck off the Greek island of Antikythera between Crete and the Peloponnese.

The catastrophe in the first century BC scattered the ship’s cargo across the seabed. It lay there until 1900. Salvage operations have since hauled up stunning bronze and marble statues, ornate glass and pottery, gold jewellery, and an extraordinary geared device – the Antikythera mechanism – which modelled the heavens.

The Antikythera Mechanism
With the latest discovery of human bones, scientists have their first real hope of sequencing DNA from a victim of an ancient shipwreck. The remains include the petrous bone, the hard part of the skull behind the ear. Dense and impenetrable to water and microbes, this is the best hope for finding intact DNA.
Analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism show it to be more advanced than previously thought—so much so that nothing comparable was built for another thousand years.

Researchers used three-dimensional X-ray scanners to reconstruct the workings of the device's gears and high-resolution surface imaging to enhance faded inscriptions on its surface.
By winding a knob on its side, the positions of the sun, moon, Mercury and Venus could be determined for any chosen date. Newly revealed inscriptions also appear to confirm the device could also calculate the positions of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — the other planets known at the time. The device's construction date was radiocarbon dated to around 150 to 100 B.C.