Greek Antiquities Found On Mentor Shipwreck

Greek Antiquities Found On Mentor Shipwreck

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The underwater shipwreck excavation of the wreck of the ship Mentor, that sank off the island of Kythera in 1802 while carrying goods plundered from the Parthenon by British diplomat Lord Elgin has proved to be a treasure trove of personal items from the passengers and crew.

A greater number of coins were also found, at least two ancient silver coins which were antiquities acquired by Elgin, passengers or the crew,along with two gold coins, used as currency at the time, from the late 1700’s. Other coins were also recovered but require conservation before they can be identified. Some of these may also be ancient.

Finding three ancient coins on the wreck last year created international news, prompting a question about what other antiquities Elgin was transporting, in addition to crates of Parthenon marbles and sculptures. There may be even more questions from this year’s finds, after conservation of currently unidentified coins is completed.

Another pistol was recovered, a fob (pocket) watch, personal seal with a cannon on it and gold chain, a pipe, ring, part of navigation instruments, bottles, musket balls, cannon balls, crockery and ceramics possibly from the galley (kitchen) area. The Mentor was a small Brig, carrying 16 crates of Parthenon sculptures and a marble throne, en-route to Malta and then the United Kingdom.

Diaries from the time reveal that the Parthenon sculptures and marble throne were recovered by sponge divers from Simi and Kalymnos in 1802-1804 but it’s unknown what else remains buried on the bottom of the sea, near Avlemonas.

Dimitris Kourkoumelis, an archaeologist in Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is going to give a speech on Nov. 26 in the auditorium of the National Archaeological Museum on the Mentor Shipwreck at Kythera, will be held on the occasion of the lecture program organized by the Association of Friends of National Archaeological Museum.

(Sources: Kytheraismos, John Fardoulis)

  • Atkenos

    What else did this Englishman steal and what is his family hiding???

  • SteveKay

    Cultural property of Great Britain?

  • Atkenos

    They STOLE from the Hellenic nation. How would they react if we sent in the best criminals in the world and took their Crown Jewels?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=556405375 Maria Koutsikou

    Great story guys! Here’s a follow-up on the lecture! http://www.marblesreunited.org.uk/news/lecture-antikythera-shipwreck

  • fgduncan

    For those who consider the material looted, the materials were removed with the approval of the Turkish government who ruled Greece at that time. As repugnant as that may be to us today, they were taken perfectly legally at the time. We have to judge Lord Elgins actions by the mores of that time, not ours. He obviously had a lot more respect for the items than the Turks did. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7PMPD4L435FDMBNJR2E3SVXC4M Noir

    He had respect for the items, but then left

  • pyramos

    The antiquities were saved from the Athenians whether Turk or Greek.  The so called
    Hellenic nation did not exist at the time.    I lived for 13
    years in both Greece and Turkey during the 70’s and 80’s.  Neither cared about their history except that it brought in tourist dollars.  Lord Elgin is a hero.  He and others like him saved our ancient European heritage from the locals. 

  • Adriaphoebe

    Both you and pyramos are ignorant of the facts, what Elgin did is most disgusting. We don’t consider it looted, it WAS looted. Educate yourselves and stop repeating the official propaganda. Shame on Britain for still allowing this crime to be perpetuated.

  • Guest

    “He obviously had a lot more respect for the items than the Turks did.” 
    Oh, really? Because he wanted them for his house? In a letter to Lusieri, July 1801:”The plans for my house in Scotland should be known to you. This building is a subject that occupies me greatly, and offers me the means of placing, in a useful, distinguished and agreeable way, the various things that you may perhaps be able to procure for me…In either case I should wish to collect as much marble as possible… You don’t need any prompting from me to know the value that is attached to a sculptured marble, or historic piece.”The first panels of the Parthenon were removed in July 1801, long before Elgin visited Athens at all. The original firman, whose authority to remove you cite, was in Italian, and “only authorized Elgin to remove from “The Temple of the Idols,” namely the Parthenon, qualche pezzi di pietra, “a few pieces of stone”. Even the most free and lavish translation of the Italian tongue cannot twist these words into meaning a whole shipload of sculptures, columns and caryatids.” (Harold Nicholson, diplomat and memorist, 1924).
    Some respect indeed. Shame.

  • pyramos

     if the “loot” wasn’t in Brittan it would have been in mortar mix.  quit crying acres of Hellenistic culture are destroyed each year in Greece and Turkey, although in the last two decades a large part of both populations have grown to respect  the heritage beneath their feet.  this was not the case over a century ago. 

  • pyramos

     

    How much did the Greeks steal from Egypt, Asia Minor and
    lands all the way to the Indus by Hellenistic concurring occupiers?   I’ve been through museums throughout the
    eastern Mediterranean they all had artifacts “looted” from others.   Furthermore most of the artifacts in the
    National Museum of Athens were excavated by British and other Western European
    archaeologist and funded by the same patrons you like to vilify.   Maybe
    in return for the Elgin marbles Greece should pay back all the money spent on
    filling its Museums and restoring its antiquities. 

  • pyramos

    Let’s follow the logic here a little. How much did the
    Greeks steal from Egypt, Asia Minor and lands all the way to the Indus as Hellenistic
    conquering occupiers?   I’ve been through
    museums throughout the eastern Mediterranean they all had artifacts “looted”
    from others.   Furthermore,  most of the artifacts in the National Museum
    of Athens were excavated by British and other Western European archaeologist
    which were funded by the same patrons now being vilified.   Maybe
    in return for the Elgin marbles Greece should pay back all the money spent on
    filling its Museums and restoring its antiquities.   Add to
    that the tourist dollars spent to admire them. 
    Be thankful for the blessings you have for they are many.

  • fgduncan

    Pyramos has amplified on my comment, and I feel perhaps should be clarified even more. The Muslim Turks abhorred statues since their religion forbad graven images.  They frequently burned the statues to make lime for cement.  Good marble, after all, makes fine lime, and the statues were made of the finest marble available.  Today, such action is unthinkable, but back in the day, they were simply supporting the tenants of their religion.

    For whatever reason Lord Elgin removed the statues, he took infinitely greater care of them then the Turks-or the Italians under them.  Perhaps his motives were base-by our standards today-but because of them, the statues still exist whereas were they left in Greece, they most likely would have made the cement to build a mosque.

    Whether they should now be returned to Greece is another matter altogather. That goes to the question of “Should all antiquities be returned to their countries of origin?” That is a philosophical question outside from this discussion.