Unprecedented exploration of Antikythera wreck yields new treasures
In the first underwater exploration of its kind, a Greek and international team of divers and archaeologists have used a new high-tech exosuit to reach deep waters in which the world-renowned Antikythera wreck has lain for two thousand years. Their investigation proved that remnants of the ships luxury cargo has survived for millennia on the sea floor as new treasures have been retrieved from the depths. According to a media release by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the rescued antiquities include tableware, ship components, and a giant bronze spear that would have belonged to a life-sized warrior statue.
The Antikythera wreck, located off the island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea, is a famous underwater archaeological site thrown into the spotlight in 1900 when researchers discovered an incredible mechanical device, now known as the Antikythera mechanism. The metallic device consists of at least 30 different types of gears and is so complex that many consider it to be the first human-made analogue computer. After decades of research, scientists were able to determine that it shows the positions of the sun, moon, and planets as they move through the zodiac, predicts solar and lunar eclipses, and even marked key events such as the Pan-Hellenic games. The discovery of this unique form of ancient technology, along with other treasures, including finely carved bronze and marble statues, glassware, jewellery, and coins, led researchers to wonder what else may lie within the shipwreck.
Left: The original Antikythera mechanism (Wikipedia). Right: A reconstruction of the mechanism (anthonyokeeffe.com).
Over the decades, divers have attempted to investigate the ancient shipwreck, but dangerous conditions caused by the extreme depth of the submerged vessel prevented researchers exploring the site fully. However, a newly developed exosuit, which allows divers to descend to 300 metres for hours at a time without the need for decompressing upon returning to the surface, has now allowed marine archaeologists to finally return to the famous wreck.