March 17, 2012

Wreck of the Mentor that carried Elgin Marbles excavated off coast of Kythera

Posted at 2:56 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

More coverage of the excavations on the wreck of the Mentor, the ship that was carrying the Parthenon Sculptures to Britain before it sank in a storm.

You can also view a press release about the project with some photos & further details here.

Greek Reporter

Research on the Shipwreck “Mentor” Which Carried Elgin Marbles
Posted on 10 August 2011 by Lia Pavlou

According to an article in the Greek newspaper “Eleftherotypia”, research was conducted by the Ephorate of Marine Antiquities from July 6-15 on the wreck of the ship “Mentor” which had once carried some of the Elgin marbles. The research was financed by the Australian Foundation “Kytherian Research Group.”

The ship, originally chartered by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin and British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799–1803, was a brig, built in 1780, that set sail from Piraeus on September 16th, 1802. However, near Cape Tainaro, strong winds made the voyage difficult and in Avlemonas, on the island of Kythyra, the ship ran upon the rocks and sank. Elgin, at his own expense, made great efforts to salvage the stolen treasures from the sunken ship. This operation lasted more than two years and, in the end, bankrupted Elgin. It was for this reason that he eventually sold the marbles to the British Museum for a very low price.

The new research team, with archaeologist Demetris Kourkoumelis in charge, has brought to light some important findings from the historical wreck. The team focused mainly on the stern of the ship, where they found objects which had belonged to the ship’s staff made of clay, glass, porcelain. The team also discovered decoration pieces, clothes, coins, guns, arms and instruments of navigation, including a compass.

Mr. Kourkoumelis notes that the wreck is significant as it is related to dark times and to an unpleasant historical moment for Greece and, at the same time, constitutes a source of information regarding the Eastern Mediterranean commercial ships of that time.

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