Lord Elgin treasures found off Kythera sunk in 1802


Marine archaeologists have recovered ancient treasures from Lord Elgin’s ship “Mentor” which sunk off Kythira in 1802.

More than 200 years after its devastating wreck, marine archaeologists have recovered gold jewellery, cookware, and chess pieces from the remains of the ship that belonged to Lord Elgin, researchers in Greece announced this week. The double-masted ship carried the looted Parthenon marbles and scores of other antiquities from Greece in 1802.

In 1802, a sizeable double-masted ship called the "Mentor" set sail with treasure looted from Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin. It was heading from Greece towards Malta, intending to land in the UK, but the brig sank after crashing into rocks off the coast of Avlemonas on the island of Kythera. It took with it the entirety of the plundered booty, which included some 17 boxes filled with antiquities -the most famous of which were the Elgin Marbles, looted from the Parthenon.

Following the wreck, all 12 passengers and crew members were rescued by a ship called "Anikitos", and Lord Elgin scrambled together a salvage mission for his precious bounty. Although the Parthenon marbles were recovered and sent to Malta, ultimately ending up at the British Museum—much was left on the seafloor.

A mission in 2011 turned up nothing more from the Mentor wreckage. Still, subsequent maritime ventures in 2015 and 2016 successfully recovered three amphorae handles dating to the third century BCE, small stone vessels, and later a cache of ancient coins, jewels, statues, porcelain, and other objects. The most recent mission, carried out between August 27 and September 15, was led by chief archaeologist Dimitris Kourkoumelis and a crew from Greece’s Euphorate for Underwater Antiquities. It involved cleaning the surviving parts of the ship and retrieving the movable objects from the wreck.

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

1 Comment
  1. Under today’s International Law of the Sea, all of these items belong to HELLAS. The then occupying force has NO rights NOR do the descendants of that English thief.