Special exhibition at the Antikenmuseum Basel, 27/9/2015 to 27/3/2016
The Antikenmuseum Basel is the first museum outside of Greece to run an exhibition on the most important ancient shipwreck ever found: the so-called Antikythera wreck. The exhibits will consist of items from the sensational cargo of the ship: masterpieces of Greek art and technology.
The exhibition “The sunken treasure” tells the story of a ship that sank around 70/60 BC during a storm off the Island of Antikythera near Crete. The ship had been sailing from Greece to Italy with a cargo of magnificent pieces of Greek art destined for the Roman market. They included exquisite marble and bronze sculptures, among them the world-famous likeness of a philosopher, gold jewellery, silver coins and vessels, richly decorated glassware, luxurious pieces of furniture and transport amphorae. A mysterious machine made up of bronze gears was also found at the bottom of the ocean. The so-called Antikythera mechanism is considered to be the world’s oldest computer and one of the most important discoveries in the history of archaeology. Researchers are still trying to find out what exactly the device was used for. What we do know is that it was a model of the movements of the sun and the moon, and thus a type of calendar.
Besides presenting the ship’s sensational cargo the Basel exhibition will also explain why it was sailing from Greece to Rome. In the 1st century BC Rome had become a new world power. The Romans were importing luxury goods for their villas as well as technology from Greece which would help them maintain their position of power.
The exhibition will also give an insight into the history of underwater archaeology. Discovered by sponge divers in 1900 the ship and its precious cargo have been examined numerous times. Even one of the pioneers in marine research, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, made a dive on the wreck. The research has become a milestone in underwater archaeology. In the autumn of 2015 researchers from various countries will once again set out on an underwater expedition. It is hoped to find more of the cargo and additional parts of the Antikythera mechanism.