Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens - Cruise Traveller - Flyer

                            Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA)



Cruising from Athens to Istanbul in September 2012 as a Guest Lecturer on board the MV Aegean Odyssey I was greatly anticipating my first visit to the legendary Island of Delos sacred to the shining Phoebus Apollo - the god of music and the arts. Delos was also sacred to Apollo's twin sister Artemis - goddess of the hunt. We arrived on a bright but windy morning - for here one also feels the proximity of the god Aeolus the "Keeper of the Winds" mentioned in Book X of Homer's Odyssey. The god's unrelenting presence was with us as we wandered through the ancient sanctuaries, temples, theatre and buildings.

In the Late Hellenistic period ca. 200-150 BC Delos was one of the great international trading centres of the ancient world. At that time the northern area of the island known as the Skardania  Quarter, was inhabited by wealthy merchants who had close contacts with Taranto (south Italy), Egypt, Northern Greece, East Greece (western Turkey), Antioch, Lebanon and the Bosporus (the Black Sea). 
Dr Monica M. Jackson, at the House of Ambrosia, Skardania Quarter, Delos where in 1967 French excavators discovered a buried hoard of Late Hellenistic jewellery
While on the island I was fortunate to visit the House of Ambrosia in the Skardania Quarter. The house was named for its mosaic which depicted Lykurgus the King of Thrace and Ambrosia the nurse of Dionysos. Here beneath the floor of a luxury private residence an intact treasure of coins and jewellery had once been buried in haste.  The island was attacked and devastated twice - first by Mithradates the King of Pontus in 88 BC and again in 69 BC by the pirates of Athenadoros. The treasure which is likely to have been imported from Egypt, was buried on one of those occasions.

Jewellery found in the Insula of the Jewels, Skardania Quarter, Delos
But this was no ordinary treasure - for the Delos Hoard can be linked stylistically and technically to jewellery salvaged on two separate occasions from a Roman merchant ship - now known as the Antikythera Shipwreck, which sank off the coast of the Islet of Antikythera in the 1st century BC. The first excavation of the shipwreck was undertaken in 1902 by the Greek archaeologists. The second in 1976 by Jacques Cousteau and his team of divers. The famous Antikythera Mechanism sometimes referred to as the first analog computer, a Greek mechanism dated to ca. 150 BC was salvaged from the wreck. Together with the other treasures it is now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Athens. The generally accepted date of the mid 2nd century BC for the manufacture of the Mechanism serendipidously coincides with that of the jewellery.

On board the MV Aegean Odyssey one of my lectures included the latest information on the Antikythera Mechanism in combination with my recently published research on the jewellery from Delos and the jewellery from the Antikythera Shipwreck. At the conclusion of the cruise I was honoured to address the Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries, at the Royal Academy London. The renowned scholar Michael Wright was present. His early research, together with that of Alan Bromley of the University of Sydney, was fundamental to the later ground-breaking work of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project led by Mike Edmunds, Professor of Astrophysics at Cardiff University.
Monica M. Jackson with Michael Wright - his working model of the Antikythera Mechanism, London 2012
View Michael Wright's working model of Antikythera Mechanism
                            Michael Wright The Economist-second-ancient-Greek-computer


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