Salvage work on the historic shipwreck of “Mentor” off Kythira island in southern Greece, which carried off sculpture from the Acropolis and Athens by order of British Lord Elgin, wrapped up another season recently with small finds including sections of the sail pulleys, the ministry of culture said on Tuesday.
The brig sank after crashing into rocks out of the port of Avlemon in September 1802, carrying 17 boxes of antiquities from various monuments of Athens including the Acropolis, removed by Lord Elgin and his workers, who retrieved all boxes soon after “Mentor” sank.
This year’s underwater excavations (Aug. 27-Sept. 15) included a 12-member team directed by archaeologist Dimitris Kourkoumelis of the Underwater Antiquities Department. Work focused on cleaning away the surviving section of the hull, and photos were stitched together to provide a view of the entire area and the wreck’s state. Some of the ship’s parts were spread over the area by the efforts of the crew to raise the boxes with the antiquities.
Findings included a cooking vessel, a gold ring with intricate flower depictions, a pair of gold earrings, fragments of a pair of calipers, a fragment of an ancient Rhodian amphora handle with a seal impression with the inscription “Antimachou” (“belonging to Antimachos”), three chess pieces (added to four found at previous excavation seasons), various items of bone or wood, and at least ten pulleys and accessories, some of them still preserving the sail-securing ropes.
Besides archaeologists, the dig team included marine biologists, conservators, divers, technicians specializing in marine environments and craftsmen. The 2019 season was supported by the ministry of culture, the Ilios Shipping Company, and Stathis Trifyllis.