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Avlemonas Kythera

Just outside the harbor of Avlemonas, at 20 meters depth, a group from the Institute of Marine Archaeology found in 1980 an ancient shipwreck! On the 15 of September 1802, Lord Elgin and his men had taken away ‘pieces of stone with inscriptions or figures’ that filled 16 boxes, and were preparing to ship them back to London. Apart from the 16 boxes of artifacts, or marbles, a total of 12 men were on board the ship After the sinking of “Mentor“, Lord Elgin had used free divers from Kalymnos to haul whatever they could from the precious cargo.

The archaeologists’ investigation identified the remains of this effort, such as appliances and items of the crew, including a clock stopped at 1:10 or 2:05. This should be the sinking time, as Lord Elgin’s secretary writes in his diary that the ship started sinking in the early morning hours.

On the 16 of September, a favorable wind had taken Mentor to Cape Matapan, the southernmost point of mainland Greece. A strong easterly wind, however, forced the ship to spend the night there. The next morning, Mentor continued its journey. It was during this leg of the transit that the captain realized that the ship was taking water.

Although he decided that it would be best to make for harbor on the nearest Peloponnesian coast, no one in the crew was familiar with the geography of that area, and so it was thought that the best solution was to seek port on the nearby island of Kythera.

In the afternoon on the same day, Mentor reached the shores of Cape Avlemonas. Two anchors were cast, though they failed to catch the bottom. Several maneuvers were then performed in order to prevent the ship from crashing into the rocks on the coast. This attempt failed, and Mentor crashed into the rocks of Cape Avelemonas and sank into the sea.


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