Divers sure of new finds from 'ancient computer' shipwreck

September 15, 2014 by Sophie Makris
The Antikythera Mechanism—is a 2nd-century BC device known as the world's oldest computer—becsause it could track astronomical phenomena and the cycles of the Solar System

Archaeologists set out Monday to use a revolutionary new deep sea diving suit to explore the ancient shipwreck where one of the most remarkable scientific objects of antiquity was found.

The so-called Antikythera Mechanism, a 2nd-century BC device known as the world's oldest computer, was discovered by sponge divers in 1900 off a remote Greek island in the Aegean.

The highly complex mechanism of up to 40 bronze cogs and gears was used by the ancient Greeks to track the cycles of the solar system. It took another 1,500 years for an astrological clock of similar sophistication to be made in Europe.

Now archaeologists returning to the wreck will be able to use a new diving suit which will allow them to more than double the depth they can dive at, and stay safely at the bottom for longer.

Double the diving depth

The Exosuit, built in Canada by Nuytco Research, will permit divers to reach depths of 150 metres (492 feet) and still perform delicate tasks, says archaeologist Theotokis Theodoulou.

The suit, which resembles a puffy space suit, "expands our capabilities", Theodoulou told AFP as the team set off for a month-long expedition to Antikythera, which lies between Crete and the Peloponnese.

"I'll be able to grasp, pluck, clench and dig... for several hours," he said.

Archaeologists believe many other artefacts are yet to be discovered in and around the wreck. Up to now they had only been able to operate at a depth of 60 metres.

The mechanism was found with a spectacular bronze statue of a youth in the wreck of a cargo ship apparently carrying booty to Rome, and researchers are certain that other items on board still remain to be discovered.

"We have good signs that there are other objects present," said Angeliki Simosi, head of Greece's directorate of underwater antiquities, after exploratory dives in the area in 2012 and 2013.

A reconstruction of the Antikythera Mechanism on display at the Ancient Greek Technology in Athens, on October 17, 2005

"There are dozens of items left, this was a ship bearing immense riches from Asia Minor," added Dimitris Kourkoumelis, another archaeologist on the team.

The also hope to confirm the presence of a second ship, some 250 metres away from the original discovery site.

Antikythera, which now has a population of only 44, was on one of antiquity's busiest trade routes, and a base for Cilician pirates, some of whom once captured and held the young Julius Caesar for ransom. He later had them all captured and crucified.

Monumental statues

The Greek team is assisted by Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist from the renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at Massachusetts, which was involved in a dive to the wreck of the Titanic.

Foley has helped in outings to identify ancient shipwrecks over the last five years.

"We may find one or more monumental statues that were left behind in 1901, in the mistaken belief that they were rocks," Foley said.

As well as the new Exosuit, the Antikythera expedition will also use robot mapping equipment and new advanced closed-circuit "rebreathers", which will allow divers much more time underwater.

"We will have more bottom time than any previous human visitors to the site, because we dive with mixed gas rebreathers," the expedition's website said.

"Each diver will have more than 30 minutes of bottom time per day, and will enjoy greater mental acuity and a larger safety margin than that of previous divers at Antikythera."

Explore further: Archaeologists return to ancient Greek 'computer' wreck site: official

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23 comments

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hemitite
5 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2014
To quote from Animal House, "This is going to be great!"
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2014
Makes me wanna take of diving...
apjronny
3.6 / 5 (10) Sep 15, 2014
So, boys and girls, we had to wait 1500 years through the dark ages (thanks, Catholic church!) in order to catch up with this advanced Greek technology. Which means that had this wait not occurred, the latest Apple release would have been iPhone 1506 Plus.
tonybudz
5 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2014
Oldest found yes, but I suspect there were earlier versions with that design.
jack1313
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2014
if you look on the back it say,s "made in China " !!!!!!!
rangerat
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2014
I hope they Video tap it !!
tnmntns
3.2 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2014
Does no one else see a problem with this article? How is it that sponge divers, not using sophisticated equipment (holding their breath and diving) could retrieve this artifact, but now we need special equipment to go there????
trshaw54
1.1 / 5 (8) Sep 15, 2014
if this device tracks the cycles of the solar system,just what event are they looking for,just like the mayan equasion there is no doubt something on the horizion headed our way that likely the government knows about has we see they do nothing for us but love to war 24/7/365.but like ive said with the end of the world and the winding down of this age no doubt we are in for a ride like history has never seen SOON.
Nik_2213
5 / 5 (9) Sep 15, 2014
If you look at 'free diving' statistics, their 'bottom time' is trivial, and their attrition rate terrifying.

Also, those early divers grabbed the 'low hanging fruit', the obvious stuff, where-as this expedition plans to do a thorough search.
Geawiel
5 / 5 (9) Sep 15, 2014
So, boys and girls, we had to wait 1500 years through the dark ages (thanks, Catholic church!) in order to catch up with this advanced Greek technology. Which means that had this wait not occurred, the latest Apple release would have been iPhone 1506 Plus.


If I recall correctly, there was almost an industrial revolution during the Greek empire as well. They had a steam powered "toy" that they saw almost no use for, as slaves did most of what it would have been used for. They also had a fairly extensive grain milling system using man made waterfalls and water wheels.
OZGuy
5 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2014
More info about the expedition:
http://www.adelai...51345984

Tachyon8491
3 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2014
The greek ionian period had an intrinsic capacity for scientific modelling - the average greek intellectual knew that the world was round, spherical and that the sun was a star. The physical form of things was considered inferior to "pure philosophy" however, and was often condemned - the antikythera computer was an exception to the rule. This phase of culture could have become a highly evolved technoculture - however, psychospiritual and psychosocial dynamics were not ready for that. We had to navigate through phases of irrational religionism and faulty modelling before that could be achieved. In many ways we still have to evolve beyond primitive paradigmatic inclinations, behaviours and conceptual burdens from the past.
Vietvet
5 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2014
More info about the expedition:
http://www.adelai...51345984



Great link!
Gigel
2.5 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2014
So, boys and girls, we had to wait 1500 years through the dark ages (thanks, Catholic church!) in order to catch up with this advanced Greek technology. Which means that had this wait not occurred, the latest Apple release would have been iPhone 1506 Plus.

That is a common misconception that progress in Antiquity could have continued until the Byzantines would have landed on the Moon. It couldn't. In fact it didn't. Scientific progress stopped about the age of Archimedes, while technical progress continued with works of engineering until around the time of emperor Trajan. After that, progress slowed to a stop. The ancient Greco-Roman culture got tired and went old before dying.

The dark ages were in fact the Middle Ages of the next civilization, the Western one, which appeared from the fusion of ancient (esp. Greek) thinking with the Oriental (esp. Judeo-Christian) thinking and the Barbarian (esp. Germanic) vitality and state.
Gigel
not rated yet Sep 16, 2014
Today's progress belongs to our culture and has little to do with the final achievements of the previous civilization. It has more to do with its roots and the values it was based on.

It's how civilizations live in a natural way: they are born (many times from the contact of barbarians with previous civilizations), empty the previous institutions of old meanings and give their own meanings to them, grow to their highest point, then get old and finally die - all in several stages (about 5). It so appears that at least in natural conditions a civilization is not able to live for much more than 2000 years.

There are exceptions though when one civilization just keeps repeating the same stage (the Chinese, the Babylonians) or goes dormant for a long time (Jews did that, dravidians of South India maybe too).
GalaxyDrifter
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2014
Yes I too would like to see a sponge diver from the year 1900 free dive to 492 feet, harvest sponges, dig artifacts, then quickly come to the surface before he runs out of air.
This would be one hell of a record dive.
Perhaps we do not have all of the details? Any input on this?
Thanks.
Vietvet
5 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2014
Does no one else see a problem with this article? How is it that sponge divers, not using sophisticated equipment (holding their breath and diving) could retrieve this artifact, but now we need special equipment to go there????


They weren't holding their breath.

http://en.wikiped...ra_wreck
BSD
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 17, 2014
So, boys and girls, we had to wait 1500 years through the dark ages (thanks, Catholic church!) in order to catch up with this advanced Greek technology. Which means that had this wait not occurred, the latest Apple release would have been iPhone 1506 Plus.


Typical religion, a dead, paedophile hand on humanity.

The only good religious types, are dead ones.
xponen
1 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2014
The culture of the ancient is not be sophisticated enough to be sustainable.

For example:
1) Roman build giant structure that last to this day, but in public bathroom you share sponge to wipe shit. I predict this kind of civilization going to get ass infection.
2) London is a bustling city during the "dark ages", but they throw shit to the street. I predict this kind of civilization will kill themselves with plague.

This people still need a culture or a religion that tell them to do stuff like a little kid.

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) Sep 18, 2014
The culture of the ancient is not be sophisticated enough to be sustainable.

For example:
1) Roman build giant structure that last to this day, but in public bathroom you share sponge to wipe shit. I predict this kind of civilization going to get ass infection.
2) London is a bustling city during the "dark ages", but they throw shit to the street. I predict this kind of civilization will kill themselves with plague.

This people still need a culture or a religion that tell them to do stuff like a little kid.


Exponen,
Not quite sure where you were goin' with all that...
DeliriousNeuron
1 / 5 (3) Sep 19, 2014
Does no one else see a problem with this article? How is it that sponge divers, not using sophisticated equipment (holding their breath and diving) could retrieve this artifact, but now we need special equipment to go there????


Because they want to spend bottom time searching, not touch the bottom and resurface! LOL!
HTD
not rated yet Sep 22, 2014
The Romans, who apparently decided to ship the "Antikythera Mechanism" from Ancient Greece back home, may also have included other mechanical wonders of Antiquity such as Ctesibius' Hydraulis and other of his inventions, perhaps yet unknown in modern time. There are no extant writings of Ctesibius; it is only through Vitruvius' 'Ten Books of Architecture' that we definitely know that the Hydraulis was his invention. If there were any of Hero of Alexander's inventions to be discovered, then archaeologists would have to change the dates of his lifetime. However, we may also find out more about Archimedes and Philo of Byzantium as well.
Personally, from my own research in this area, I am hoping that another Hydraulis would be found. However, one that might shed light on as to whether the Greeks had driven it with steam like a Calliope or a steam driving fire-extinguisher, since a fire nozzle only had to replace the Hydraulis' organ pipes above its wind-chest and compressor to function as
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2014
I intend to agree with those (serious) posts whom suggest that we should not confuse astronomical collecting of data with our present society. The ancients needed such devices which probably served as the equivalent of our time pieces/calendars. And lets face it, apart from farming food and the odd battle here and there, they had more time than we have to spend on astro details. Their gods and demi-gods all came from or existed in the sky and it was important to study for worship. Certainly true of the Sumerians, who were a practicle race where math was important.
The closest they got to electric ideas was from fish and noting that certain materials when rubbed gave a similar shock...and of course the odd bolt of lightning from Zeus. Experiment had to wait until much later and that was difference between them and us now. The ancients didn't have interest to study 'shock' power beyond a possible cure for certain ills.
Ha, with Agamemnon most young lads were soldiers not scholars.

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