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September 20, 2016

Intact Human Bone Found at Site of Famous 2000 Year Old Shipwreck; Scientists Hope They Can Analyze DNA

I confess, I've never heard of this "famous" shipwreck. A bit before my time.

Very interesting though.

The researchers are on the tiny Greek island of Antikythera, a 10-minute boat ride from the wreckage of a 2,000-year-old merchant ship. Discovered by sponge divers in 1900, the wreck was the first ever investigated by archaeologists. Its most famous bounty to date has been a surprisingly sophisticated clockwork device that modelled the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets in the sky — dubbed1 the ‘Antikythera mechanism’.

But on 31 August this year, investigators made another groundbreaking discovery: a human skeleton, buried under around half a metre of pottery sherds and sand. “We’re thrilled,” says Brendan Foley, an underwater archaeologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and co-director of the excavations team. “We don’t know of anything else like it.”

Within days of the find, Foley invited Schroeder, an expert in ancient-DNA analysis from the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, to assess whether genetic material might be extracted from the bones. On his way to Antikythera, Schroeder was doubtful. But as he removes the bones from their bags he is pleasantly surprised. The material is a little chalky, but overall looks well preserved. “It doesn’t look like bone that’s 2,000 years old,” he says. Then, sifting through several large pieces of skull, he finds both petrous bones — dense nuggets behind the ear that preserve DNA better than other parts of the skeleton or the teeth. “It’s amazing you guys found that,” Schroeder says. “If there’s any DNA, then from what we know, it’ll be there.”

Apart from politics, this site specializes in Gamable News, things you can use for your next D&D/Top Secret/Champions/GURPS scenario.

More: What makes this shipwreck famous is precisely that "Antikythera Mechanism" found aboard her, an analogue computer and orrery to predict planets' and stars' positions as well as phenomena like eclipses.

Wikipedia doesn't mention a use in navigation.

The fact that only one of these has been found (I think) and that similar technology did not resurface until the late Middle Ages (or whatever) is taken as proof, naturally, that Aliens Did It.


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posted by Ace at 04:06 PM

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