Atlantis Online
July 23, 2019, 04:58:21 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: THE SEARCH FOR ATLANTIS IN CUBA
A Report by Andrew Collins
http://www.andrewcollins.com/page/articles/atlantiscuba.htm
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

Return to Antikythera: Divers revisit wreck where ancient computer found

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Return to Antikythera: Divers revisit wreck where ancient computer found  (Read 175 times)
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« on: October 06, 2012, 02:02:06 pm »


Return to Antikythera: Divers revisit wreck where ancient computer found




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


It took more than 100 years to work out from its corroded remains how the Antikythera mechanism worked. Video: New Scientist
Report Spam   Logged

Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2012, 02:03:14 pm »

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 island's 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 – carried out in treacherous conditions with desperately crude equipment – 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 Athens' 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 (video).

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.

It's 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 it's 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. What's still down there?

The wreck lies in around 60 metres of cold, rocky, current-swirled water – 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, Cousteau's 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. He's 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 – 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. It's a long shot, but those missing bits could still be on the seabed.

This isn't 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 it's a good bet that there are plenty of other wrecks here, from all periods of history.

On a two-day reconnaissance survey in June this year, Foley and his team discovered the wreck of a British warship called HMS Nautilus, lost in 1807, plus a range of ancient anchors, ceramics and a 19th-century naval gun.

This suggests the area hasn't been looted (which makes sense given the difficulty of diving here), so any new wrecks found could be pristine. "Everyone is very, very excited," Foley says of the upcoming mission. "This ought to be extraordinary."

He also points out that the Antikythera ship, with its valuable cargo, is unlikely to have been travelling alone. When it sank, others in its fleet may have gone down too. Could one of them have been carrying another Antikythera mechanism? For the past hundred years, this awe-inspiring device has stood alone, our only glimpse into a technology lost for millennia. That might – just might – now change.

Jo Marchant is the author of a book about the mechanism, Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/oct/02/return-antikythera-wreck-ancient-computer
Report Spam   Logged
Cynthia
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 167



« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2013, 07:18:06 pm »


Return to Antikythera: what divers discovered in the deep




Divers revisiting the wreck in Greece where an ancient computer was found have discovered an array of artefacts

• Antikythera shipwreck: treasures from the deep – in pictures

    Share 1370
    inShare1
    Email

Antikythera shipwreck expedition : Divers recover an amphora
Divers recover an amphora from the site of the Roman Antikythera shipwreck in Greece. Photograph: Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities/WHOI

Divers returning to the site of an ancient wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera have found artefacts scattered over a wide area of the steep, rocky sea floor. These include intact pottery, the ship's anchor and some puzzling bronze objects. The team believes that hundreds more items could be buried in the sediment nearby.

The Antikythera wreck, which dates from the first century BC, yielded a glittering haul when sponge divers discovered it at the beginning of the 20th century. Among jewellery, weapons and statues were the remains of a mysterious clockwork device, dubbed the Antikythera mechanism.

Bar a brief visit by the undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s (featured in his documentary Diving for Roman Plunder), no one had visited the wreck since, leading to speculation about what treasures might still be down there. The locals told tales of giant marble statues lying beyond the sponge divers' reach, while ancient technology geeks like me wondered whether the site might be hiding another Antikythera mechanism, or at least some clues as to whom this mysterious object belonged to.

Cue all-round excitement when in October last year, a team of divers led by Brendan Foley of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Aggeliki Simossi of Greece's Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, went back for a proper look. The divers used James Bond-style propulsion vehicles equipped with high-resolution video cameras to circumnavigate the island at about 40 metres depth. Now the photos released by the team show some of what they found.

For centuries Antikythera was in a busy shipping lane, but surprisingly its treacherous underwater cliffs and reefs are not littered with sunken ships (perhaps those ancient navigators were more skilled than we thought). And there are no obvious signs of a wreck at the site supposedly excavated by Cousteau, suggesting that he recovered all of the visible items there – or that he planted some of his finds for the cameras.

But 200 metres away, the divers found artefacts spread across the rocky sea floor, on a steep slope between 35 and 60 metres deep.

The largest item recovered was a huge lead anchor stock. It was lying on a semicircular object that might be a scupper pipe, used to drain water from the ship's deck. If so, the ship may have gone down as she was sailing with the anchor stowed. The team also raised an intact storage jar (amphora), which matches those previously recovered from the wreck. DNA tests may reveal its original contents.

Most intriguing are dozens of irregular spherical objects sprinkled across the wreck site. They look like rocks but contain flecks of green, suggesting small bronze fragments, corroded and encrusted in sediment after thousands of years in the sea. This is just what the Antikythera mechanism looked like when it was discovered. Then again, they could be collections of ship's nails.

Because the artefacts the team found are a short distance from the site investigated by Cousteau, it's possible that they belong to a second ship from around the same date as the original wreck, perhaps part of the same fleet. But Foley thinks it more likely that all of the remains come from one vessel that broke up as it sank.

To confirm this, he hopes to revisit the site later this year. He wants to use metal detectors to map the distribution of metal and ceramic objects buried beneath the surface, as well as dig a few test trenches. "I'm intensely curious about what's in the sediments," he says.

Cousteau only excavated a few square metres of the site but that was enough to reveal more than two hundred items, including jewellery, coins and small bronze statues. But while previous visits to the wreck have been little more than salvage expeditions, Foley says he'd love to carry out a systematic, scientific excavation of the wreck site, if he can find anyone to sponsor him: "As soon as we have the money we'll be back."

• Jo Marchant is author of Decoding the Heavens, a book about the Antikythera mechanism. Her next book, The Shadow King, will be published in June.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2013/mar/18/return-to-antikythera-divers?INTCMP=SRCH
Report Spam   Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum | Buy traffic for your forum/website
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy