The Greek Ministry of Culture says marine archaeologists have discovered extraordinary gold jewelry, cook pots and other valuable ancient objects in the historic wreck of the “Mentor,” the brig which belonged to Lord Elgin which sank off Kythera Island in 1802.
The wreck of the Mentor contains priceless antiquities Lord Elgin’s team plundered from the Parthenon and other Athens monuments. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, stole the marbles to adorn his Broomhall House but was forced to sell them to compensate for a costly divorce. Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins those who claim Bruce “rescued” the treasures from the Ottomans.
The ship crashed onto the rocks of Cape Avelemonas and sank on September 15, 1802, with 16 boxes of artifacts Bruce’s agents had loaded aboard. When Lord Elgin heard about the disaster, a massive salvage operation was undertaken to rescue the Parthenon sculptures now stored in the British Museum.
The recent underwater exploration by Greece’s Ephorate for Underwater Antiquities under chief archaeologist Dimitris Kourkoumelis led to the discovery of a gold ring, a pair of gold earrings, and three chess pieces. Four other chess pieces have been discovered in previous years. This dive also uncovered intact cookware, along with other wooden and iron items. artifacts have systematically been brought to the surface from expeditions since 2011.
The Parthenon sculptures remain some of the most controversial objects in the British Museum. Moves by Greece to repatriate the artifacts to their home of origin have so far met with no success.