"This is the most exciting scientific discovery we've made here", Foley told the Guardian, adding that he believed the passenger or crew member "was trapped in the ship when it went down and he must have been buried very rapidly or the bones would have gone by now".
"It's extraordinarily rare to find human remains on an ancient shipwreck", Brendan Foley, an underwater archeologist at Woodshole Oceanographic Institution in MA and co-director of the excavation, told Travel + Leisure.
Archaeologists have been scouring the Antikythera site in Greece for more than 100 years, and only found a few scattered human bones.
The remains are in good enough condition to allow for potential DNA testing, according to a statement by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
In 1976, the famed French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his team returned to the wreck and recovered almost 300 more objects, including skeletal remains of the passengers and crew.
This bodes well for the possibility of extracting genetic material from Pamphilos' bones and sequencing them successfully, raising hopes that this will lead to the first instance of a victim of an ancient shipwreck having his entire DNA mapped for study.
The 1st century B.C. wreck of a large freighter found off the southern Greek island of Antikythera more than a century ago has yielded marble statues, tableware and thousands of other artefacts. The bodies of most human shipwreck victims are washed away by the currents or devoured by fish. Researchers are excited about what the DNA of the 2,000-year-old corpse would reveal.
Part of a skull and other bones found among ceramics during the latest excavations that ended last week belonged to a person who was in the ship's hold when it sank, the ministry said.
"Now we're face to face with someone who sailed that ship, face to face with someone who might have handled the mechanism", Foley said. Discovered by sponge divers in 1900, the wreck was the first ever investigated by archaeologists.
If successful, Schroeder will be able to determine the gender, ethnicity, geographical origin and even the eye color of the person the bones once hailed from. Since the bones lay for centuries next to corroded iron artifacts, they have been stained a deep red by the resulting iron oxide. "If there's any DNA", he explained, "then from what we know, it'll be there".
While this is the first skeleton to be recovered from the wreck, it gained notoriety following the discovery of a technological device known as the Antikythera Mechanism, a complicated system composed of roughly 40 bronze cogs and gears used by the ancient Greeks to monitor the cycles of the solar system, the AFP said.