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Underwater mission ends with important findings from ancient shipwreck

ATHENS, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Off the remote Greek island of Antikythera in one of the last frontiers of the Mediterranean Sea, experts from around the globe brought important findings to light this October at one of the richest ancient shipwrecks ever discovered in the region.

In a joint venture of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, experts added new elements to the scientific significance of the Roman-era shipwreck, where a century ago the world's oldest analog computing device - the Antikythera mechanism - was found.

During the underwater exploration at the Antikythera shipwreck site, the team managed to clarify the precise spatial distribution of the shipwreck and its proximity to a second location, raising questions whether this is an extension of the first shipwreck or the remains of a second, according to a statement from the Greek Ministry of Culture.

The most recent findings will help researchers plan the next steps for a systematic excavation of the 55-meter-deep site to uncover more secrets of the shipwreck, according to the Greek Culture Ministry.

For one month beginning September 2014, the team mapped the site with the latest technological equipment and created 3-D models of the seabed and the wreck using stereo cameras and sonar.

Among the treasures found on the sea bed, approximately 250 meters away from the main site of the shipwreck, are a bronze spear that is believed to come from a bronze or marble statue, a metal anchor, a bronze ring, parts from a bed, and a cluster of amphora containers.

The scientists will return next year to continue their work, hoping that next time they will be able to use an innovative robotic diving system called Exosuit that could descend to more than 300 meters and stay for hours, avoiding decompression on the way back to the surface. However, bad weather conditions did not allow for the use of Exosuit this time.

The Roman-era ship was found in 1900 by Greek sponge divers by chance. The divers recovered hundreds of works of art including bronze and marble statues that now fill galleries at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. They also came upon a mysterious bronze clockwork device, the Antikythera mechanism, believed to have been designed by Greek scientists in the first century BC to estimate astronomical positions.

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