When ancient ships are discovered, largely all that remains are remnants of wood.
Eons beneath the waves will dismantle organic matter, and within decades, cargoes and passengers are erased. Once in a while, the icy depths become an untouched tomb, preserving moments from hundreds, even thousands of years ago.
From what the royals wore, snacks preferred by sailors, to finding evidence that finally put notorious rumors to rest. Lost stories of tragedy and trade resurface, as well as the unknown and rare.
A case of sticky fingers is still being disputed between Greece and Britain.
In 1801, Lord Elgin filled 16 crates with marble art he removed from the Parthenon. The next year, the British ship Mentor sailed for London, carrying the loot (or rightful property, depending on one’s view) and Lord Elgin.
Near the island of Kythera, it was scuttled by a storm. Shortly afterward, the crates were salvaged and their contents displayed in London’s British Museum. The 17 sculptures and 56 panels that once decorated the Parthenon remain at the heart of an ownership squabble between the two countries.
More recently, archaeologists visited the 200-year-old shipwreck to see if it contained more artifacts. They were on the lookout for additional Parthenon marbles that might have been left behind, but the trip was also an attempt to confirm a rumor that Lord Elgin had taken other antiquities from Greece.
The two-week survey proved that he did. Divers found a stone vessel and the handles of ancient Rhodian amphoras, some stamped, dating back to the third century B.C.