March 16, 2012

Divers explore the wreck of ship that carried the Elgin Marbles from Greece

Posted at 6:14 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

A team of divers, led by archaeologist Demetris Kourkoumelis have organised new excavations of the remains of the ship, the Mentor, which was lost in a storm off Kythera whilst transporting many of the Parthenon Sculptures to London. The sculptures were subsequently recovered by sponge divers from Kalymnos.

Bloomberg News

Team Explores 19th Century Parthenon Marble Shipwreck in Greece
By Natalie Weeks – Aug 8, 2011 1:40 PM GMT

A team of underwater explorers in Greece examined the shipwreck of the Mentor, which sunk in 1802 as it transported marbles from the Parthenon to London.

The sculptures, part of the Parthenon collection taken and sent to England by Lord Elgin, were recovered after the ship sunk and no additional pieces were found in last month’s or in three previous explorations, the Athens-based Culture and Tourism Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

Three ancient coins, two silver and a bronze, were found on the wreck as well as two pistols and navigation tools used by the 10-member crew, according to the e-mail. French sea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau investigated the vessel with a team in 1975, the ministry said.

The Mentor, which lies near the island of Kythira in the Mediterranean sea, was explored from July 6 to July 15 and the team was funded by Kytherian Research Group, an Australian foundation, according to the e-mail.

Lord Elgin dismantled part of the Parthenon frieze at the beginning of the 19th century to ship back to Britain. Greece renewed its campaign to retrieve the marbles, housed in the British Museum, with the opening of the New Acropolis Museum in June 2009.

To contact the writer on the story: Natalie Weeks in Athens

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at

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  1. Steve Kay said,

    03.16.12 at 11:12 pm

    “no additional pieces were found” – so the hoped for anti-Elgin propaganda coup failed to materialize.

  2. Matthew said,

    03.17.12 at 11:41 am

    I don’t think anyone was expecting anything significant to be found – but the wreck is of more historic interest than many, because the significance of what was carried in it is still current.

  3. Antonis Deves said,

    08.14.12 at 5:10 pm

    I find the discovery of the ship to be of significant importance for the relationship of Hellas and Britain and as a golden medium for restoring the crime that Thomas Bruce inflicted on the Temple of Athena. This is a tremendous opportunity which can benefit both the Hellenic and the British nations considering that is taken the right way and by that I mean the fairest and most ethical one. Therefore I propose the following:
    As soon as the remains of the ship and all the rest of the foundlings are completely recovered, cleaned up and cataloged to be returned to the BM to be exhibited where the taken Parthenon Marbles are exhibited now. Plaster copies of the original ones are to be made and to be exhibited in the same Hall with the Mentor’s remains so that the journey of the Marbles, their adventure as well as their preservation from the BM to be the main theme of the exhibition. A plaque to be made stating that the British Nation with the help of their Museum preserved these treasures during Hellas’ dark occupational years and have now proudly returned them to Athens to rejoice the rest. Needless to say that the originals are to be returned to Athens and rejoin the rest that survived Thomas’ Bruce vandalism. In the Athens Acropolis Museum, where all the Parthenon Marbles will be now wholly exhibited there should be a plaque that expresses the gratitude of Hellas and all the cultural world to the BM for their preservation of the Marbles. Moreover the entrance to the Acropolis Museum should be indefinitely free of charge for all visiting British citizens.

  4. Con veneris said,

    08.03.15 at 3:49 am

    Give back those Marbles they don’t belong to England they were pillaged from Greece have some respect give them back take them where they belong in Greece


    05.05.18 at 6:32 pm

    In the late 70s early 80s there was a movie produced about the recovery of the Elgin Marbles from the wreck in Kythera. Do you know it?
    Can you find it somewhere in internet?

  6. Matthew said,

    05.06.18 at 1:42 am

    Are you thinking of the film “Lord Elgin and some stones of no value” by Christopher Miles?
    It was the first film that Hugh Grant appeared in.

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