A 2,100-year-old skeleton has been discovered at the famous Antikythera wreck site.
A research team that included archaeologists and oceanographers working at the wreck said the skeleton was found on Aug. 31. The team has successfully removed a skull with a jaw and teeth, arms and legs, ribs and “other remains” from the skeleton. Other portions of the skeleton were left behind and will be excavated later on, according to The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
"Archaeologists study the human past through the objects our ancestors created," said Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with WHOI. "With the Antikythera Shipwreck, we can now connect directly with this person who sailed and died aboard the Antikythera ship."
Advances in DNA science are expected to aid experts in their analysis of the skeleton. According to WHOI, Dr. Hannes Schroeder, an ancient DNA expert at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, has been at the site to view the remains.
When the Greek authorities grant permission, samples from the skeleton will be sent to Schroeder’s laboratory for full analysis. Depending on the amount of viable DNA found, the ethnicity and geographic origin of the skeleton may be identified, as well as information about how people lived some 2,100 years ago.
"Against all odds, the bones survived over 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea and they appear to be in fairly good condition, which is incredible," said Schroeder.
The shipwreck is the largest to be discovered. It is assumed to have been a grain carrier that met its fate around 65 BC. The wreck was discovered in 1900 by Greek sponge divers. Since its discovery, teams have visited the site and returned ashore with treasures including marble statues and the Antikythera Mechanism, or, the world’s first computer.
In 1976, diver Jacques-Yves Cousteau and a team visited the wreck and uncovered more than 300 artifacts, including skeletons, according to WHOI.