THE ANTIKYTHERA SHIPWRECK - The ship, the treasures, the Mechanism

06.04.2012 - 28.04.2013

in short

The Antikythera Shipwreck has turned out to be an object of interdisciplinary research. Its finds date from the fourth to the first century BC. Its cargo attests to the existence of trade in art, then new in the western world. The ongoing study of the Mechanism continues to offer surprises to experts in ancient technology and astronomy.
Exhibition has ended.
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Visitor entrance

National Archaeological Museum, Athens
44 Patission St.,
10682 Athens

Detailed information about the museum on

Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο

in detail

The temporary exhibition for 2012 is dedicated to the shipwreck discovered off the islet of Antikythera. Almost all of the finds are presented in their context for the first time. The wreck was found by sponge divers from the island of Symi and its recovery was the first large-scale, successful, archaeological underwater enterprise worldwide. Upon its discovery the divers from Symi, assisted by the Greek Royal Navy, retrieved a great number of antiquities in the period 1900-1901. A second attempt was undertaken by the Greek Archaeological Service, supported by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the oceanographic ship, Calypso, in 1976.

The exhibition has been organized by the National Archaeological Museum in co-operation with the National Research Centre, the Group for the Study of the Antikythera Mechanism and the Society for the Study of Ancient Greek Technology

The Director of the National Archaeological Museum, Dr Nikolaos Kaltsas, is the coordinator of the entire project.

The 378 exhibits are presented in sections, which pose, or answer, questions.

1rst Section: The adventure of recovery: The birth of underwater archaeology
The first section of the exhibition presents the account of the attempts to recover the shipwreck, of the ensuing restorations, press releases and state documents from all the periods involved.

2nd Section: The ship, its capacity and its crew  
Fragments from the hull of the ship and its external lead sheathing with various other accessories, such as tubes for water drainage, sounding weights for determining the depth of water and the topography of the sea-bottom, are displayed in this section. The remains of the ship and its cargo show that the vessel was a freighter (in ancient Greek λκς (‘olkas’), in Latin navis oneraria), with estimated capacity of 300 tons. Objects used by the people on board (e.g. vases and games) offer a picture of the habits and life during travel.

3rd Section: The ship’s voyage and her cargo
What kind of goods was being transported by the freighter? Where did it start its journey? Where was it heading for?
The bronze and marble statues, the glassware, the bronze vessels and the golden jewellery represent only a part of the cargo, whose remainder still lies on the bottom of the sea, possibly located at deeper levels. These works bear witness to the aesthetic tastes of those who ordered them or of potential buyers but, above all, reflect the then novel practice in the history of western civilization of trading in artworks
The study of the cargo greatly contributes to our understanding of maritime trade and the circulation of works of Greek art at the end of the Hellenistic period and the Roman Republic in the light of the commercial exchanges and the taste of the rising Roman aristocracy.

4th Section: The Mechanism
One third of the exhibition is dedicated to this exquisite, unique device of mathematical and astronomical genius, which has created worldwide interest. All 82 surviving fragments, including the three best-known large pieces, will be displayed.
The history of the interdisciplinary study of the Mechanism, drawings, radiographs, tomographies, digital assimilations and models accompanied by interpretations advanced by scholars during the past century are presented in this unit. The exhibition ends with the presentation of a short 3D documentary produced by Philippe Nicolet. In dates and time to be announced, the documentary, produced by Images First Ltd, in collaboration with ERT and Arte on the shipwreck and the Mechanism, will by presented in the Museum’s Amphitheatre.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, which is, in practical terms, the first full publication on the topic. Experts in the field of both archaeology and physical sciences have contributed texts regarding the sections of the exhibition and issues connected with the shipwreck. The catalogue also includes photographs and entries for all exhibits.
Two educational programmes for elementary and high school pupils will be offered, thanks to the kind sponsorship of Alpha Bank. Participation is free (telephone contact: 210 8217724).
A third programme focusing on the Mechanism is under construction by the Programme of History, Philosophy and Didactic of Sciences. It will be digitally presented on October 2, 2012 in the form of a game/interactive research. It is addressed to both teenagers and others with skills in Mechanics and Astronomy.
Exhibit Contributors: National Archaeological Museum, National Archive Directorate of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Numismatic Museum, Ephorate of Underwater Archaeology, Programme of History, Philosophy and Didactic of Sciences, National Research Centre (one model), Group for study of the Antikythera mechanism (three models), Society for the Study of Ancient Greek Technology, Michael Wright (one model).
7/ 3 EUR/ under 18y free
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