Oct 11, 2014 02:15 AM EDT
Over a hundred years ago, in 1900, sponge divers swimming at the bottom of the sea nearest the island of Antikythera in southern Greece unearthed an extraordinary treasure from the wreckage of a once sea-ferrying ship. Known simply as the Antikythera shipwreck, over the years many artifacts have been discovered bringing to light the culture and the technology of the time the ship sank, and this year excavation efforts have revealed even more.
The vessel, which is several millennia old dating back to roughly 70 BC, once carried statues made of bronze and marble amongst many other treasures that were sunk to the bottom of the sea in transit between the coast of Asia Minor and Rome. Believed now to be the vessel carrying a betrothed woman on her way to be married along with her dowry, the newest artifacts recovered during the most recent expedition, which occurred from Sept. 15 to Oct. 7, included tableware, ship components, a giant bronze spear, and even a "computer" of sorts. While the technology found is quite primitive compared to what we have today, the "computer" found is believed to be a fairly accurate model used to calculate the positions of astronomical objects found in the skies.
Sunken under 55m of water, the wreckage poses a unique challenge to divers, who must use rebreathers and advanced diving apparatuses that can only extend their time at the bottom to up to 3 hours at a time. Though, the team is using state-of-the-art robot diving technology funded by the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the extensive diving that is required prolongs the process of fully unearthing all of the ship's treasures. Leaving more to be found in next year's adventures.
Though for over hundred years divers have returned to the same site, rarely as the treacherous waters and depths are not easily overcome by novices, the team believes that many more treasures await them at the bottom of the sea. And marine archaeologist Brendan Foley, with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, says that he hopes to find additional parts to the Antikythera Mechanism in the near future, to possibly reveal what led to the great ship's wreckage.
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