Return to Antikythera: Divers revisit wreck where ancient computer found
2012-10-04 0:00

By Jo Marchant | Guardian.co.uk





Site where oldest computer lay for thousands of years may yield other treasures and even another Antikythera mechanism

In 1900, Greek sponge divers stumbled across "a pile of dead, naked women" on the seabed near the tiny island of Antikythera. It turned out the figures were not corpses but bronze and marble statues, part of a cargo of stolen Greek treasure that was lost when the Roman ship carrying them sank two thousand years ago on the islandís treacherous rocks.

It was the first marine wreck to be studied by archaeologists, and yielded the greatest haul of ancient treasure that had ever been found. Yet the salvage project Ė carried out in treacherous conditions with desperately crude equipment Ė was never completed. So this month, armed with the latest diving technology, scientists are going back.

Between 1900 and 1901, the sponge divers retrieved a string of stunning antiquities, including weapons, jewellery, furniture and some exquisite statues. But their most famous find was a battered lump that sat unnoticed for months in the courtyard of Athensí National Archaeological Museum, before it cracked open to reveal a bundle of cogwheels, dials and inscriptions.

It has taken scientists over a hundred years to decode the inner workings of those corroded fragments, with x-ray and CT scans finally revealing a sophisticated clockwork machine used to calculate the workings of the heavens.





Dubbed the Antikythera mechanism, it had pointers that displayed the positions of the sun, moon and planets in the sky, as well as a star calendar, eclipse prediction dial and a timetable of athletics events including the Olympics.

Itís a stunning piece of technology that revolutionises our understanding of the abilities of the ancient Greeks. Nothing close to its complexity is known to have been created for well over a thousand years afterwards, and the emergence of mechanical clocks in medieval Europe.

There are questions that remain unanswered, such as where itís from and who built it (Posidonius, a philosopher who lived on Rhodes during the first century BC, is one candidate, while the third century BC genius Archimedes may have invented this type of device). But one of the most intriguing mysteries relates to the wreck on which it was found. Whatís still down there?

The wreck lies in around 60 metres of cold, rocky, current-swirled water Ė not an easy place to visit. The sponge divers who salvaged its cargo worked in clunky metal diving suits with little understanding of the dangers of diving at such depth. By the time they abandoned their project, two of them had been paralysed by the bends, and one was dead. They left behind stories of abandoned treasures, including giant marble statues that rolled down the steep slope from the wreck and out of reach.

The undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau spent a couple of days at the wreck site in 1978 and brought up some precious smaller items, including some coins from the Asia Minor coast, which suggested that the ship sailed from there around 70-60 BC (probably carrying war booty from Greek colonies back to Rome). But even with their sleek scuba gear, Cousteauís divers could spend only brief minutes on the seabed without risking the bends.

No one has been back since. Now, after years of negotiations with the Greek authorities, Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist based at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, finally has permission to dive at Antikythera. Heís working with Greek archaeologists including Theotokis Theodoulou of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.

This week, the team begins a three-week survey using rebreather technology, which recycles unused oxygen from each breath and allows divers to stay deeper for longer. The aim is to survey the wreck site properly for the first time, to find out once and for all what has been left down there Ė and to check down the slope, to 70 metres depth or more, to see if those stories of runaway statues are true.

Any items found on the wreck site could provide further clues to the origin or ownership of the ship. And not all of the pieces of the Antikythera mechanism were ever found. Itís a long shot, but those missing bits could still be on the seabed.

This isnít what gets Foley most excited about the project, however. His team will also dive around the entire island, a distance of about 17 nautical miles, using James Bond-style propellers to cover ground quickly. Foley hopes this could reveal a whole clutch of previously unknown wrecks.

The island of Antikythera sits in the middle of what has been a busy trade route since ancient times: a treacherous shard of rock notorious for downing ships in a storm. In Roman times, it was also an infamous centre for pirates. So itís a good bet that there are plenty of other wrecks here, from all periods of history.

[...]


Read the full article at: guardian.co.uk













Tune into Red Ice Radio:

Lloyd Pye - The Annunaki & Genetic Engineering (OOParts)

Michael Cremo - Forbidden Archeology

Gene Matlock - The Origins of Humanity, Civilization & The Nephilim

Nick Pelling - Deciphering of the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript (Antikythera Mech)

Michael Tsarion - Sorcerers and Magicians: Amenists, Atonists, Druids and Scythians Continued

Gary Biltcliffe - The Legacy of the Etruscans & The Mysterious Pelasgi

Anton Mifsud - Maltaís Ancient Megalitic Temples, Giants & Traces of the Lost Atlantis

Linda Moulton Howe - Hour 1 - Baltic Sea Object, GŲbekli Tepe & Creation of Homo Sapiens








Related Articles
Antikythera treasures: richest haul of objects ever found from the ancient world
Arthur C. Clarke - Mysterious World, Ancient Wisdom
Holy Blood, Phoenician Sails?
Phoenicians Left Deep Genetic Mark, Study Shows


Latest News from our Front Page

Wotan: The Archetype of the Awakened Aryan Man
2015-08-05 2:50
Wotan/Woden/Odin represents the archetype of the questing and awakened Aryan man, in particular the questing and awakened Germanic man. Whilst it is clear from our studies of Germanic mythology that Wotan was not the original primary God of the Germanic pantheon – that honour rests with Tiw/Tyr/Ziu  – nevertheless, Wotan represents that questing and awakened part of the Aryo-Germanic soul more than any other deity. In this article I wish to focus ...
Worker fired over hospital's hardline vaccination policy
2015-08-04 20:55
Three others suspended under Waikato DHB’s new rule requiring staff to be vaccinated or wear a mask. One worker has now been sacked for defying a new hard-line policy forcing unvaccinated Waikato District Health Board staff to get flu jabs or wear masks. A number of staff at the DHB have come forward with concerns since the Weekend Herald revealed that three ...
Bulgaria keeps out migrants with a 50 mile razor wire fence along Turkish border
2015-08-04 20:27
Keep out: Police chief Ivan Stoyanov at the fenceStretching far into the horizon, this is the super-fence blocking thousands of migrants hoping for a new life in Europe. As police in Calais struggle to contain thousands trying to storm the Eurotunnel in their desperation to get into Britain, the Bulgarian authorities are shoring up their border with Turkey. The barriers around the ...
DF wants video to tell refugees to stay away
2015-08-04 20:59
 “If you want to seek happiness in Europe, Denmark is not the right place.”  That’s the message that the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) wants to send loud and clear to asylum seekers.   DF spokesman Martin Henriksen is calling on Denmark to replicate Australia by releasing a video in English and Arabic that will discourage asylum seekers from making their way ...
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
2015-08-04 18:26
King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone. In its place a "participation society" is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government. The ...
More News »