In the azure waters off the rocky coast of Antikythera, a remote island in the Mediterranean with a population of less than 50, lies one of history’s most intriguing shipwrecks, CNN reports.
In 1900, sponge divers from the Greek island of Symi anchored off the eastern coast of the island while waiting for a ferocious storm to pass. What they would stumble upon would shock the world. Now, an international team of scientists and archaeologists is returning to Antikythera, armed with the most advanced marine technology available, to undergo the first-ever scientific excavation of the ancient shipwreck.
“The Antikythera shipwreck is maybe the most important, most famous shipwreck from antiquity,” says Brendan Foley, an archaeologist from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-director of the expedition. “We are hardcore scientists and archaeologists. We hate to speak of treasure but in this case, it’s actually a treasure ship and there are just no two ways about it.”
The international expedition started by mapping out the site using “Sirius,” an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. The AUV will conduct a high-resolution survey of the wreck site to create precise documentation of the expansive debris field. Meanwhile, technical divers equipped with metal detectors will be working to determine the extent of the wreckage under the sediment before test trench excavations can begin.
Underwater Iron Man
The team has come to Greece with a next-generation diving suit that could revolutionize the future of ocean exploration. Appearing like something straight out of “Iron Man,” the Exosuit is an atmospheric diving system, developed by Vancouver-based Nuytco Research, originally designed for offshore exploration of oil fields.
It’s a mammoth undertaking, costing well over €2 million ($2.5 million). The team is hopeful that the Mediterranean will yield some of its secrets, but for now, with little to go on, the archaeologists have been left to come up with theories based on the scraps of historical evidence at hand.
Human remains – including a skull that was 80% intact – were recovered in the 1976 Antikythera dive, alongside a treasure trove of jewelry, perfume bottles and other women’s accessories.