Archaeologists in Turkey have discovered half of a mysterious ancient statue lying among the remains of a shipwreck on the floor of the Aegean Sea. The terra cotta statue is believed to depict a Cypriot goddess (from Cyprus) and be close to 2,700 years old. The statue was found among a shipwreck of the coast of the Turkish Mediterranean resort town of Marmaris.
The archaeologists were excavating the shipwreck on behalf of Dokuz Eylul University in İzmir, which funds the Aegean Research and Application Center to study the mysteries of the seas surrounding so many ancient civilizations. Professor Harun Özdaş, who led the excavation, stated that the discovery of the statue was a welcome surprise:
When we cleaned its surroundings, we saw the toes of the sculpture. It made us very excited. Then we uncovered the lower part of the body. The goddess sculpture had a dress on it. We know that such sculptures were made of two pieces. This is why we believe that the upper part of the sculpture is in the same place.
The recovered lower half of the statue depicts a barefoot female figure in a long, flowing dress and measures around 60 centimeters (2 feet) in length. Researchers hope to also find the upper half of the goddess in the sea floor surrounding the shipwreck, and believe that scores of other priceless archaeological artifacts could likely be nearby as well. The shipwreck covers an area of 300 square meters (3000 sq. ft) under 40 meters (120 feet) of water, making excavations difficult and time-consuming.
Since the statue was found among other Cypriot artifacts such as pottery and earthenware, it is believed that this find could inform archaeologists about the trade relationships between neighboring ancient Mediterranean and Aegean civilizations. Other recent excavations of ancient shipwrecks in the area have turned up fascinating archaeological revelations, such as the discovery of a skeleton among the ship which carried the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism or the discovery of a massive Byzantine shipwreck “graveyard” in the Black Sea. While space exploration is neat and all, the world’s oceans constantly remind us that they are still full of unsolved mysteries waiting to be found.