The Greek Ministry of Culture announced on Tuesday that marine archaeologists have discovered exquisite gold jewelry, cooking pots and other valuable ancient objects in the historic wreck of the “Mentor,” the brig belonging to Lord Elgin which sank off Kythera Island in 1802.
The Mentor sank while transporting a portion of the priceless antiquities Lord Elgin’s team had plundered from the Parthenon and from other areas around the Acropolis as well as other Athens monuments.
The recent underwater exploration by Greece’s Ephorate for Underwater Antiquities under chief archaeologist Dimitris Kourkoumelis recovered a gold ring, a pair of gold earrings, and three chess pieces. Four other chess pieces have been found in previous years.
The most recent dives also uncovered intact cookware, as well as other wooden and iron items which were most likely ship fittings.
The ship had left the port of Piraeus, near Athens, and was en route to Malta, with its final destination the United Kingdom.
The Mentor sank due to severe weather on September 15, 1802, after crashing onto rocks off the small port of Avlemonas on Kythera. It quickly sank to the bottom of the sea, coming to rest at a depth of 23 meters (75 feet). All the passengers and crew were rescued by the vessel “Anikitos.”
Lord Elgin organized a desperate salvage mission upon first hearing of the maritime disaster near Kythera. Using sponge divers from the islands of Simi and Kalymnos, the Parthenon marbles were eventually salvaged from the shipwreck, and shipped to Malta. From there they continued their fateful journey to the United Kingdom.