Wearable submarine to excavate Antikythera wreck

If there’s one thing that floats my boat its ancient technology, have you heard of the Antikythera mechanism? It’s an ancient analogue computer that was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. Funny thing is though, the technology of the first one, designed in about 150-100BC by Greek Scientists wasn’t created again until the 14th century in Europe. The mechanism was lost in a shipwreck off the Greek Islands of Antikythera and remained undiscovered until 1901 and has the oldest known complex gear mechanism. The range of fragments found suggests that there is a second mechanism to be retrieved from the wreck of the Hellenistic period – but all this is old news.

Scientists are now attempting to use a wearable submarine suit to sift through the wreckage where the original mechanism was found to see what other treasures can be excavated. Called the ‘Exo-suit’, the suit has a rigid metal humanoid form with bad ass thrusters that enable divers to operate safely down to depths of 300 meters. There is believed to be a second device that scientists are hoping to discover with the help of the Exo-suit to shed some light on the original piece.

Antikythera mechanism3

The Exo-suit, created by Nuytco Research, is touted as being the future of ocean exploration and is designed literally like a wearable submarine. This aluminium alloy suit has articulated joints which allows for very precise movement and also an Atmospheric Diving System (ADS) that maintains a cabin pressure of the surface and still allows the suit to bend due to a unique rotary joint invented by Phil Nuytten.

The Exo-suit is connected to a ship via an umbilical cable that supplies it with power for horizontal and vertical thrusters, and a re-breather that scrubs toxic carbon dioxide from exhaled air, giving 50 hours of life support. All on a live feed and full communication to the ship.

The artefacts that have already been found off the Antikythera Wreck tell stories of luxury and wealth. One of the remarkably intact statues found was of the ‘Youth’ of Antikythera, Ephebe as well as other bronze and marble statues, precious jewellery, a hoard of coins, glassware and ceramic jars. It was speculated by the Greek writer, Lucian that the boat was carrying part of the loot of the Roman General Sulla from Athens in 86 BC, and might have been on its way to Italy.

 The Discovered Antikythera Mechanism

The Discovered Antikythera Mechanism

The mechanism itself is beyond incredible and created more than 21 centuries ago, a bronze mechanism of awe inspiring ingenuity made in Greece, was a device capable of indicating exactly how the sky would look for decades to come – the position of the moon and sun, lunar phases and even eclipses. An intricate design was revealed through modern scanning technology that allowed scientists to decipher the 30 interlocking, bronze gears and cranks that encoded ancient Greece’s astronomical expertise.

Michael Wright, a Curator at the Science Museum in London, believes that not all the fragments recovered from the wreck came from the same device. His thoughts are that there is another mechanism waiting to be discovered off the Antikythera wreck. The Exo-suit will help break new grounds in underwater archaeology by being able to sift through the remnants of the ship with a total precision. At $1.5 million, the Exo-suit is pretty expensive but it’s nothing to the riches of the discoveries that are about to be made.

Always questioning – C.Reyonlds

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