Researchers to revisit ancient Antikythera wreck using new technology
The Antikythera wreck in the Aegean Sea is a world-famous underwater archaeological site thrown into the spotlight in 1900 when researchers discovered an incredible mechanical device, now known as the Antikythera mechanism , which dates back 2,000 years. The device consists of a complex combination of gears and took decades for scientists to decipher its functionality – 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.
Archaeologists suspect that there is much more to be found within the Antikythera wreck, named after the Greek island Antikythera, however, the dangerous conditions of the submerged vessel have so far prevented researchers exploring the site fully. The wreck is located at an extreme depth of 120 metres, resulting in the death of one diver and others being paralyzed from decompression sickness. Subsequent attempts more recently have led to more discoveries, but time constraints have prevented a thorough study of the wreck.
According to a new report in New Scientist , marine archaeologists with the American Museum of Natural History have now come up with a solution – they will use a high-tech exosuit developed by Nuytco research, which allows divers to descend to 300 metres for hours at a time without the need for decompressing upon returning to the surface. The exosuit, which is made mostly of aluminium, works like a submarine. It has 1.6 horsepower thrusters, an oxygen replenishment system, LED lights, cameras, and is tethered to the surface with a fiber optic gigabit Ethernet that allows for two-way communications, a live video feed, and monitoring of the suit and its wearer.
Exosuit developed by Nuytco research. Credit: American Museum of Natural History
Brendan Foley, co-director of field operations at WHOI's Deep Submergence Laboratory, believes that the Antikythera shipwreck still holds many secrets and the suit will help find them. A preliminary survey last year showed artefacts scattered over an area 50 metres by 10 metres, and even revealed a previously unknown shipwreck alongside the first one.
"We have feet, arms and the crest of a warrior's helmet from statues recovered in 1900 – maybe we'll get lucky and find the rest of them," says Foley. "But for me, the mechanism is what sets this wreck apart. It's the questions it opens up about the history of science and technology that fire my imagination."