Rcently, a group of researchers has stated that a recovered marble head of the legendary Roman and Greek hero Hercules has been found inside a 100-year-old archeological site directly off the coast of one Greek Island.
The famous head was found in the remains of a wreck of a Roman ship that sank well over 2,000 years ago out in the Aegean Sea near the island of Antikythera, which is very near the island of Crete. The sunken ship, thought to be some kind of trade vessel or cargo boat, was discovered in 1900, but many archaeologists are still finding artifacts spread out along the sea floor.
“In 1900, [sponge divers] pulled out the statue of Hercules and now in all probability we’ve found its head,” explained Lorenz Baumer, an archaeologist, to the Guardian. “It’s a most impressive marble piece. It is twice lifesize, has a big beard, a very particular face and short hair. There is no doubt it is Hercules.”
— Antikythera Research (@antikytherateam) June 20, 2022
The mythological strongman, Hercules was made to carry out 12 almost impossible tasks by the gods in order to make up for killing his family due to being put into a frenzy by Hera, the wife of Zeus.
These labors he was required to do included things such as killing hydra-creatures and monstrous lions, along with cleaning the horrendously filthy stables of a local king by using his strength to change the routes of two rivers. The statue’s body was originally discovered from the same shipwreck as part of a previous archaeological expedition that was carried out well over 100 years ago.
Just recently, a group of researchers carried out another survey of the sea floor, finding many new key artifacts, which included the previously missing head of the Hercules statue. This survey was the second phase of a five-year underwater exploration of the wreck site, which is scheduled to take place from 2021-2025.
The time the scientific crews could spend excavating was shorter than they want due to the site being over 150ft under water.
“It’s so deep they can only be down there for 30 minutes,” explained Baumer, as reported by the Guardian. “But now we have an idea of what has been hiding under those rocks … each find helps us piece together more context in our understanding of the ship, its cargo, the crew and where they were from.”
Along with Baumer, the project has utilized the efforts of Dr. Angeliki G. Simosi of the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece, along with the one government agency, the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities. The funding for the project has been provided by the president of the Hellenic Republic.
Baumer explained that the shipwreck area was an “extremely rich” site with quite a bit of potential for future expeditions.
“You never know what archaeology will deliver tomorrow, but what we do know is that the Antikythera wreck is an extremely rich site, the richest in the ancient world,” he explained.