Search for the ‘World’s Oldest Computer’ made possible by high-tech diving gear
Archaeologists dove into the deep blue sea on Sept. 15 by using a revolutionary, high-tech diving suit to explore an ancient shipwreck. The Exosuit, a deep-sea diving suit, armed divers as they searched for a 2nd century B.C. device called the Antikythera mechanism, which is considered the world's largest computer.
The Antikythera mechanism was first discovered off a remote Greek island in the Aegean sea by sponge divers at the turn of the 20th century.
The ancient Greeks used the world's oldest computer to track the solar system. The ancient computer had a mechanism of up to 40 bronze cogs and gears. An astrological tool of similar complexity was not developed until 1,500 years late in Europe.
Researchers can now return to the ancient shipwreck, exploring the site at the bottom of the sea safely for a longer period of time. The Exosuit allows divers to perform tasks, even when reaching depths of 150 meters. Divers could only operate up to depths of 60 meters.
"I'll be able to grasp, pluck, clench and dig for several hours," archaeologist Theotokis Theodoulou says.
The Exosuit, built by Nuytco Research in Canada, mirrors a space suit that "expands our capabilities," he says.
Divers will also use robot mapping equipment and new high-tech "rebreathers" that allow divers more time to remain underwater.
"Each diver will have more than 30 minutes of bottom time per day, and will enjoy greater mental acuity and a larger safety margin than that of previous divers at Antikythera."
Armed with the diving gear, the team of researchers will explore the depths of Antikythera, which is located between Crete and the Peloponnese for the month-long expedition.
"There are dozens of items left. This was a ship bearing immense riches from Asia Minor," says team archaeologist Dimitris Kourkoumelis.
Not only do they hope to discover other ancient artifacts, the researchers want to confirm that a second ship is located about 250 meters away from the original shipwreck site.
Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at Massachusetts, which was involved in a Titanic expedition, is assisting the team. "We may find one or more monumental statues that were left behind in 1901, in the mistaken belief that they were rocks," Foley says.
Antikythera was once one of the busiest trade routes. It is known for being the base for Cilician pirates, the ones that captured a young Julius Caesar, before he ordered them to death.