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2,000-Year-Old Human Skeleton Discovered in Ancient Greek Shipwreck

skeleton
Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO via Gizmodo

The remains of an ancient sailor have been discovered on 2,000 year-old shipwreck.

The oceans of the world hold many shipwrecks and many, many secrets. Recently, the waters revealed a very ancient one.

Off the Greek island of Antikythera, Archaeologists and technical experts discovered a human skeleton on a shipwreck three weeks ago that dates roughly to the year 65 B.C..

The researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture discovered arm, leg and rib bones, alongside portions of the jaw, skull and teeth, in a 165-foot-deep wreck that was first discovered back in 1900.

skeleton
Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO via Gizmodo

“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,” Ancient DNA expert Dr. Hannes Schroeder of the Natural History Museum of Denmark said in a press release.

The Antikythera shipwreck was a multi-level ship that archaeologists think was hauling cargo as well as a large number of people when it went down.

The bones were hiding under a layer of sand and broken pottery the entire time. With new advancements in DNA technologies, the researchers are hoping they can garner some new information about the person the bones belonged to.

It won’t be easy. Nobody has ever extracted DNA from an underwater sample this old before. And they have to get permission from Greek authorities first. But a successful test would tell the researchers a lot. “If enough viable DNA is preserved in the bones, it may be possible to identify the ethnicity and geographic origin of the shipwreck victim,” the Woods Hole’s press release states.

skeleton
Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO via Gizmodo

The skeleton isn’t the first body to be found at the Antikythera site. The legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau explored the wrecked and collected artifacts and remains there back in 1976.

But this newest find is the first made at the site since the development of more modern DNA technologies.

While the skeleton is an exciting find, researchers are still hoping the wreck could hold more mysteries: they have found ancient marble statues, and even pieces of ancient technology like the mysterious Antikythera mechanism, a geared device discovered shortly after the wreck was discovered. It is largely considered the world’s first analog computer.

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2,000-Year-Old Human Skeleton Discovered in Ancient Greek Shipwreck