One of the world’s most storied shipwrecks is still yielding new discoveries.
More than 60 artifacts were pulled from the famed Antikythera shipwreck during a recent expedition of the vessel, which sank in the Aegean Sea in approximately 65 BC.
The expedition by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found gold jewelry, glassware, the spear from a statue, marble sculptures and decanters in the past few weeks.
One of the more curious finds appeared to be an ancient weapon known as a dolphin:
The object is a lead and iron artifact that weighs about 220 pounds. Dolphins were defensive weapons that were dropped from the ship’s yard — a spar on the mast — onto the deck of an attacking ship, such as a pirate vessel.
The scientists used an autonomous robot to map a 10,500-square-meter (2.6 acres) area of sea floor at a depth of 170 feet, then sent divers down to inspect the site, according to a WHOI news release.
New lab techniques allowed the team to extract DNA from ceramic jars to determine what food, drinks and medicines were once inside, and test the isotopes of lead objects to determine where they came from.
“Our new technologies extend capabilities for marine science,” marine archaeologist Brendan Foley said in a WHOI news release. “Every new dive on the Antikythera shipwreck delivers gifts from the ancient past. The wreck offers touchstones to the full range of the human experience: from religion, music, and art, to travel, trade and even warfare.”
Some objects were brought to the surface while others were left on the sea floor.
The shipwreck, discovered in 1900 by sponge divers, was most known for the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient device that in some ways may have been the world’s first computer. The clock-like gadget with interlocking gears was believed to have been used to help predict eclipses and the positions of celestial bodies.
Over the years, archaeologists have also recovered marble statues and thousands of other artifacts. At least 300 pieces were pulled from the wreck during a 1976 expedition by legendary underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
“In 27 days and despite frequent bad weather, they recovered hundreds of objects: ceramic vessels, components of marble statues, bronze statuettes, bronze coins, gold jewelry and gemstones, fine glassware and human skeletal remains,” WHOI wrote about the Cousteau expedition.
There might be more discoveries to come. The researchers said they also found the wreck of a second ancient cargo ship nearby.