Saturday, 5 January 2013

The brig Mentor

The theme of  the fourth book in the Commissaire Pierre #Rousseau series, Return to the Parthenon, is inspired by the real events which took place off the island of #Kythera, Greece, in 1802.  Lord Elgin had loaded 17 crates of sculptures taken from the #Parthenon onto the small brig #Mentor. Brigs were two masted sailing vessels with a reputation as fast and manoeuvrable. However they required a large crew for their size and were difficult to handle when sailing into the wind.

The Mentor set sail heavily laden from Piraeus on September 16th, 1802. Strong winds made the voyage difficult and the ship ran onto the rocks off #Avlemonas on the island of Kythera and sank. #Elgin spent a fortune recovering the crates from the bottom of the sea, using Greek sponge divers to raise the sculptures. It was always suspected that some items were never recovered, since not all the marbles on Elgin's list were brought ashore.

A recent dive on the site in 2011 recovered only ancient coins and a quantity of personal items belonging to the crew.

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