Introducing the Team, Part 1

The Return to Antikythera team comprised of a lot of talented people, across a wide range of disciplines (and nations). From archaeologists to technical divers, robotics experts, vessel skippers and crew, photographers and film makers. Here’s some candid photos of team members in action this season. A first installment featuring about one third of the team. Subsequent posts will follow shortly.

Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou, Project Co-Director, maritime archaeologist in the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou, Project Co-Director, maritime archaeologist in the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Dr Brendan Foley, Archaeologist, Project Co-Director & visionary.
Dr Brendan Foley, Archaeologist – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Project Co-Director & visionary.
Fieldwork organiser & technical diving instructor Alexandros Sotiriou
Alexander Sotiriou, lead diver, fieldwork organiser & technical diving instructor.
Phil Short, lead diver, rebreather instructor trainer.
Phil Short, lead diver, rebreather instructor trainer.
Evan Kovacs, videographer, film maker
Evan Kovacs, bottom diver, videographer, film maker.
Brett Seymour, bottom diver, photographer
Brett Seymour, bottom diver, photographer.
Nikolas Giannoulakis, technical diving instructor
Nikolas Giannoulakis, technical diving instructor
Thanasios Chronopoulos, diver, boat skipper
Thanasios Chronopoulos, diver, boat skipper
Alex Tourtas, archaeologist, diver
Alex Tourtas, archaeologist, diver
John Fardoulis, photographer, content producer, diver, drone pilot.
John Fardoulis, photographer, content producer, diver, drone pilot.
Konstantinos Kotoulas, boat crew, diver
Konstantinos Kotoulas, boat crew, diver
Evita Simoni, photographer
Evita Simoni, photographer

Project Partner – OTE-COSMOTE

OTE-COSMOTE installed two new base stations (cellular towers), to provide our project and guests  reliable, fast 4G mobile internet coverage. Most of these updates were sent to the internet by their 4G network.

These new base stations will remain in Antikythera, providing the island with improved infrastructure as a result of the Return to Antikythera project and OTE-COSMOTE’s sponsorship.

Project Partner – The Hellenic Navy

We were very fortunate to have the Hellenic Navy as a partner during the Return to Antikythera 2014 season.

They provided the vessel, HN THETIS and a full crew, which functioned as a support craft for the Exosuit.

HN THETIS, anchored next to the Antikythera shipwreck
HN THETIS, anchored next to the Antikythera shipwreck
HN THETIS, a stable platform for the Exosuit
HN THETIS, a stable platform for the Exosuit

A seven man Navy SEAL (O.Y.K) team was also assigned to the project by the Hellenic Navy, who spent a considerable amount of time training on mixed gas Sentinal rebreathers prior to fieldwork, the same units as used bottom divers in the Return to Antikythera team.

The Hellenic Navy SEAL (O.Y.K) team assigned to the project.
The Hellenic Navy SEAL (O.Y.K) team assigned to the project.
Crew from HN THETIS, Navy SEAL (O.Y.K) & Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities teams all working together
Crew from HN THETIS, Navy SEAL (O.Y.K) & Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities teams all working together

 

Air Support

copters

Antikythera is a difficult place to get to. There is no airport (just a helipad), ferry services are limited and weather is often inhospitable, cutting off the island.

Hence, we were lucky to have Costa Navarino as a sponsor, providing a Bell 430 helicopter for transport when we were out of other options.

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It brought VIP guests from Athens and those transiting from abroad, transported the archaeologists and diving team to Kythera for the sponsor event and was a nice safety blanket in case we got stuck.

Mathias Buttet, R&D Director, Hublot leaving Antikythera with the Costa Navarino helicopter.
Mathias Buttet, Hublot R&D Director, leaving Antikythera with the Costa Navarino helicopter.

The yacht, turned research vessel GLAROS, provided by sponsor, the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation also helped a lot, being a platform for AUV deployment, providing accommodation and transport throughout the 2014 Return to Antikythera season. Especially transporting most of the archaeologists and diving team – plus hundreds of kilograms of equipment to Piraeus on Wednesday when fieldwork finished, rather them having to wait until Sunday for a ferry.

 

Spreading the News

We’ve been really fortunate to be able to inspire people about the Antikythera shipwreck.

Web, print and broadcast media have all helped share the excitement regarding new techniques and finds, taking a sunken time capsule located off an island with 19 permanent residents, around the globe.

Coverage has been on a daily basis in Greek web, print and broadcast media, with many other mainstream media outlets also sharing the news in other languages and countries.

News of the project even topped a Facebook trending list.

Facebook trending list.
Facebook trending list.

It’s too difficult to list all the stories, the following are links to a few examples.

BBC News – Antikythera wreck yields new treasures

CNN – Lost treasures reclaimed from 2,000-year-old Antikythera shipwreck

Nature.com – Famed Antikythera wreck yields more treasures

NBC News – Divers Find Titanic-Type Treasures From Ancient Antikythera Shipwreck

The Washington Post – Stunning video of finds from Antikythera shipwreck

Daily Mail – Return to Antikythera dive unearths new treasures: Ceramic jug and spears are among the latest finds from the shipwreck dubbed ‘Titanic of the ancient world’

News.com.au – Antikythera wreck in southern Greece yields new treasures

io9.com – Archaeologists Make Stunning Discoveries at the Antikythera Shipwreck

Philip Hilts from Scientific American joined the team in Antikythera, and has filed the following stories.

Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: Treasures Found (and Maybe a Second Ship)

Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: The Exosuit’s First Mission

Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: Technology Tackles Dangers of the Deep

Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: Marine Archaeology Goes High-Tech

And not forgetting our YouTube videos which were professional productions created on location.

We’ve done our best to set a new standard for public outreach from in the field.

Stunning Finds from Ancient Greek Shipwreck – New Antikythera Discoveries Prove Luxury Cargo Survives

Section of a bronze spear recovered that would have belonged to a larger-than-life size statue.
Section of a bronze spear recovered that would have belonged to a larger-than-life size statue.

A Greek and international team of divers and archaeologists has retrieved stunning new finds from an ancient Greek ship that sank more than 2,000 years ago off the remote island of Antikythera. The rescued antiquities include tableware, ship components, and a giant bronze spear that would have belonged to a life-sized warrior statue.

The Antikythera wreck was first discovered in 1900 by sponge divers who were blown off course by a storm. They subsequently recovered a spectacular haul of ancient treasure including bronze and marble statues, jewellery, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism. But they were forced to end their mission at the 55-meter-deep site after one diver died of the bends and two were paralyzed. Ever since, archaeologists have wondered if more treasure remains buried beneath the sea bed.

Now a team of international archaeologists including Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Theotokis Theodoulou of the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities have returned to the treacherous site using state-of-the-art technology. During their first excavation season, from September 15 to October 7, 2014, the researchers have created a high-resolution, 3D map of the site using stereo cameras mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Divers then recovered a series of finds which prove that much of the ship’s cargo is indeed still preserved beneath the sediment.

Components of the ship, including multiple lead anchors over a metre long and a bronze rigging ring with fragments of wood still attached, prove that much of the ship survives. The finds are also scattered over a much larger area than the sponge divers realized, covering 300 meters of the seafloor. This together with the huge size of the anchors and recovered hull planks proves that the Antikythera ship was much larger than previously thought, perhaps up to 50 meters long.

“The evidence shows this is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered,” says Foley. “It’s the Titanic of the ancient world.”

The archaeologists also recovered a beautiful intact table jug, part of an ornate bed leg, and most impressive of all, a 2-meter-long bronze spear buried just beneath the surface of the sand. Too large and heavy to have been used as a weapon, it must have belonged to a giant statue, perhaps a warrior or the goddess Athena, says Foley. In 1901, four giant marble horses were discovered on the wreck by the sponge divers, so these could have formed part of a complex of statues involving a warrior in a chariot that was pulled by the four horses.

The shipwreck dates from 70 to 60 BC and is thought to have been carrying a luxury cargo of Greek treasures from the coast of Asia Minor west to Rome. Antikythera stands in the middle of this major shipping route and the ship probably sank when a violent storm smashed it against the island’s sheer cliffs.

The wreck is too deep to dive safely using regular scuba equipment, so the divers had to use rebreather technology, in which carbon dioxide is scrubbed from the exhaled air while oxygen is introduced and recirculated. This allowed them to dive on the site for up to three hours at a time.

The archaeologists plan to return next year to excavate the site further and recover more of the ship’s precious cargo. The finds, particularly the bronze spear, are “very promising,” says Theodolou. “We have a lot of work to do at this site to uncover its secrets.”

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit www.whoi.edu.

Part of a Statue Found!

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports has issued an official press release about finds from this year’s Return to Antikythera fieldwork season.

The press release is available in Greek here.

One of the most exciting finds was a 210 cm section of a bronze spear, which would have belonged to a larger-than-life statue.

Section of a bronze spear recovered that would have belonged to a larger-than-life size statue.
Section of a bronze spear recovered that would have belonged to a larger-than-life statue.

This suggests more statues could be buried in the general area

All major goals were completed, including;

a. Creating a highly detailed map of the site, which will act as a blueprint on which future finds and work can be charted

b. Completing a metal detector survey of the site

c. Gaining a better understanding of how the wreck lays, and where major features (such as the cargo area) may be located

d. Recovering a few select objects and sediment samples for analysis

e. Testing new technology for use in deep water archaeology, such as the Exosuit

More information will be available shortly.

Metal detector survey of the shipwreck area.
Metal detector survey of the shipwreck area.
Exosuit was deployed as an new experimental system for deep water archaeology.
Exosuit was deployed as an new tool for deep water archaeology.

Exosuit Dives Antikythera!

The team created history today, with Ed O’Brien from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution being the first person to dive (pilot) the Exosuit in the deep blue water off Antikythera.

Ed O'brien creates history, being the first person to dive (pilot) the Exosuit in Antikythera.
Ed O’brien creates history, being the first person to dive (pilot) the Exosuit in Antikythera.

We’ve been hampered by bad weather which created delays in the deployment of the Exosuit, but everything came together today, with the Exosuit being successfully deployed from the Hellenic naval vessel, HN THETIS.

Creating history, with members of the Hellenic Navy Seal (O.Y.K) team providing in-water support for the Exosuit.
Creating history, with members of the Hellenic Navy Seal (O.Y.K) team providing in-water support for the Exosuit.
Hellenic Navy diver/Exosuit pilot Fotis Lazarou is the first Greek person to dive the Exosuit in Antikythera.
Hellenic Navy diver/Exosuit pilot Fotis Lazarou was the first Greek person to dive the Exosuit in Antikythera.

On the Wreck

Two separate diving operations were planned for today, with rebreather divers investigating the wreck, and the navy Seal (O.Y.K) team were ready to support the Exosuit on the shipwreck.

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The rebreather team spent 90 minutes on the bottom, with a further 90 minutes of decompression, completing a three hour dive. They took an extensive amount of photos and video, collecting sediment samples and recovered an object of interest.

The Hellenic navy seal  (O.Y.K) team preparing to board HN THETIS.
The Hellenic navy Seal (O.Y.K) team preparing to board HN THETIS.

The Hellenic Navy vessel HN THETIS was anchored over the wreck, and there were several tests to see if it was safe enough to deploy the Exosuit in windy conditions, with a 2 metre swell.

A ‘hook test’ was completed to see how the large hook on the end of the crane would swing, to decide if Exosuit could be lowered into and out of the water, safely.

It was decided that there was too much risk to deploy the suit, so we’ll try again tomorrow.

Briefing after the hook test.
Briefing after the hook test.

Stay tuned for more…