Staying Connected

Even though Antikythera is in a remote location, we remain connected to the rest of the world through the latest 4G technology.  Quality telecommunications are also vital for 3D modeling and remote data processing, interactive software support, firmware updates, cloud storage, and video conferencing with stakeholders around the world. Once again, COSMOTE has exceeded expectations in keeping us connected.

Remote & cloud-based data processing.
One of the 4G cellular towers in Antikythera.

Day One of the 2017 Expedition

Today was the first day of the 2017 expedition, one of the most physically demanding stages of the project. Around ten tonnes of equipment and supplies were unloaded and readied for usage. The team split into three, setting up the mess area for the next three weeks, building the gas station to fill SCUBA cylinders, unloading the dive boats and preparing dive equipment. There is only limited infrastructure on the island, meaning that almost everything has to be shipped in and set up each time.

Michalis Protopsaltis helped the team by providing a forklift and driver from Kythera to unload pallets from the ferry. We would have been in serious trouble without such a tool.
This entire truck load of equipment came from Athens and was loaded onto the ferry in Kythera.

Team members have been arriving from around the world, with; Theotokis Theodoulou,  Nikolas Giannoulakis,  Mihalis Kelaidis,  Phil Short and Gemma Smith making the transit from Chania to Antikythera aboard diving support vessel “Nikolas”.

The transit from Chania in Crete to Antikythera.

Alexander Sotiriou and Dimitrios Romios made the transit to Antikythera from Alimos on diving support vessel “Poseidon”, collecting John Fardoulis from Kythera on the way.

Diving support vessel “Poseidon” stopping off in Diakofti, Kythera on the way.

Brendan Foley, Alex Tourtas, Michael Tsimperopoulos, Paolo Iglic, Ilias Charalampous and Dimitra Kotsi arrived on the ferry from Neapolis, with four heavily laden vehicles and thirteen pallets of equipment and supplies.

The main job for tomorrow, day two, will be to finish assembling dive equipment and do shakedown dives, ideally heading to the wreck on Wednesday to do the rigging, before excavating can begin. Stay tuned for more…

Tonnes of equipment and supplies shipped in for the three-week duration of the expedition.
All hands required to help unload and set up.

Assembling rebreathers.
Boxes containing dry suits, and soft equipment need to be unpacked.
Photographic equipment, spare parts and more dive gear.
Dive cylinders to be filled.
Pumps and other excavation equipment.
Vans, SUVs & trailers transported to Antikythera for the expedition.

A Day in the Life

To provide more insight into what it’s actually like during an expedition, the following is an example of what happens on a typical day of fieldwork during the Return to Antikythera project…

6.30am – Wake up

7am – Breakfast

Diving is physically demanding, so food is important for energy
Diving is physically demanding, so food is important for energy
Pre-dive paperwork...
Pre-dive paperwork…

 

7.30am – Load equipment into the vehicles & trailer, then move to the dock

Load the vehicles & trailer
Load the vehicles & trailer

 

8am – Load the boats
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8.15am – Dive briefing
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8.45am – Arrive at the wreck site and gear up
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9am  – 10am – Dive teams descend, with the sequence and timing of descents depending on the days plan

Bottom time is generally around 40 - 60 minutes on rebreathers and 20-30 minutes using open circuit SCUBA
Bottom time is generally around 40 – 60 minutes on rebreathers and 20-30 minutes using open circuit SCUBA

 

10am -11.30am – Decompression

Decompression time is generally 45-70 minutes, depending on bottom time
Decompression time is generally 45-70 minutes, depending on bottom time

 
Noon – 1pm – Ascend, then return to the harbour
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1.15pm – 2.15pm – Unload the boats, take equipment up to the dive ops centre and wash
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2.15pm – Lunch

 

3pm – 5pm showers and unwind

 

5pm-6.30pm prepare equipment for the next day’s diving
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Post dive paperwork
Post dive paperwork

 

8pm – Dinner

 

10pm – Bed time

 

Then repeat the next day…

Best of the Old and New

Modern science is helping us better understand the past, with new technologies and techniques complimenting standard archaeological methods in piecing together what actually happened 2000+ years ago. Much like how modern forensics help police with investigations.

DNA testing, 3D reconstruction and isotopic analysis are three different techniques used by the Return to Antikythera Project, which we’ll talk about in more detail shortly.

Artefacts are often fragile, so where possible a 3D model is constructed both in situ underwater and after an object has been recovered from the shipwreck.

Here’s a 3D model of a hand from a marble statue found during the spring fieldwork season.

This is an example of an artefact that is badly eroded, making it difficult to say what the rest of the statue looked like, hence the development of an initiative called 3D Antiquity.

The idea is to 3D-model thousands of ancient sculptures accurately and precisely, then compare them against the eroded and unrecognizable Antikythera marble statues, in the hope of identifying them.

We’d like to thank software vendor Autodesk for assisting the project with their ReMake software for 3D reconstructions.

The latest in diving technology also allows the team to work safer and for longer periods of time, which is important in such a difficult location.

Here’s a number of images from over the last week.
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Back at It!

The team is arriving in Antikythera from around the world at the moment, for the 2016 summer expedition on the shipwreck, which commences this week.

The MV Poseidon dive vessel stopped off briefly at Diakofti, Kythera en route this morning, to pick up Michel and Christine from Hublot who are spending time with the team in Antikythera.

Michel is one of the people responsible for bringing the Bubblot, underwater drone to life.

Alexander and Dimitris, having a 10 minute break in Kythera, before continuing the final leg of their maritime journey to Antikythera.
Alexander and Dimitris, having a 10 minute break in Kythera, before continuing the final leg of their maritime journey to Antikythera.
Michel, checking out another shipwreck on the way, the MV Nordland.
Michel, checking out another shipwreck on the way, the MV Nordland.
Next stop, Antikythera...
Next stop, Antikythera…

Here’s a brief video of MV Poseidon arriving at the dock.

Live, Over the Shipwreck!

We’re working at maximum capacity today, the first four teams are in the water, with the fifth team dropping in now.

The ROV is keeping an eye on things, providing a live view from the surface which helps better synchronise the process.

Stay tuned!

The ROV provides a live view of operations.
The ROV provides a live view of operations.
Special guests!
Special guests! Yanis Bitsakis with Mathias Buttet and Michel Blumenthal from Hublot R&D.

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Brendan Foley and Gemma Smith are the fifth team to drop in today.
Brendan Foley and Gemma Smith are the fifth team to drop in today.

New Arrivals

Mathias Buttet, Director of R&D at Hublot, and designer of the Antikythera Mechanism watch arrived in Antikythera today, perfect timing to observe the excavation in top gear over the next few days.

Another interesting arrival was a caïque with Kalymnian sponge divers on board, who will be diving for sponges in the area this week. It was quite nostalgic talking to the guys, who have a similar vessel and use similar techniques to the sponge divers who originally found the Antikythera shipwreck in 1900.

Luxury watch maker HUBLOT is a major sponsor of the Return to Antikythera project and their support is greatly appreciated.

Mathias Buttet being briefed on progress so far.
Mathias Buttet being briefed on progress so far.
The sponge diving boat from Kalymnos.
The sponge diving boat from Kalymnos.
Gemma Smith, Phil Short & Jo Marchant had a great time talking to the sponge divers.
Gemma Smith, Phil Short & Jo Marchant had a great time talking to the sponge divers.
The whole dive team was excited about sponge diving techniques of the past. Here's Evan Kovacs with a locally harvested sponge to take back to the USA as a present.
The whole dive team was excited about sponge diving techniques of the past. Here’s Evan Kovacs with a locally harvested sponge to take back to the USA as a present.

Local Help

We’d like to thank Dr. Fotini Lata for her help this week, when team photographer Brett Seymour sustained a hand injury. She helped diagnose the injury and immobilized Brett’s hand, which assisted him in getting back in the water sooner.

It’s a shame that Fotini finishes her post in Antikythera today and we wish her the best, perhaps returning next year as team doctor for Return to Antikythera 2016.

Dr. Fotini Lata, with journalist and author of Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant, Brett Seymour & Brendan Foley.
Dr. Fotini Lata, with journalist and author of Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant, Brett Seymour & Brendan Foley.

Making Progress

The team has found a good rhythm and is being very productive. It takes a week to set up and then the first few days to iron out any bugs, and now we’re past those phases, the team is hitting its stride. Below is a selection of photos from today, showing the team in action.

And beneath the surface, the following video by Evan Kovacs provides insight regarding how working in water is like being in a different world.

Photos by John Fardoulis ©ARGO 2015

Mooring the boats.
Mooring the boats.

Dr. Carl Kaiser preparing the ROV, which provides a live video feed to the surface.
Dr. Carl Kaiser preparing the ROV, which provides a live video feed to the surface.
Archaeologists Dr. Brendan Foley & Dr. Dave Conlin waiting for their dive slot.
Archaeologists Dr. Brendan Foley & Dr. Dave Conlin waiting for their dive slot.
Alexander Sotiriou getting ready for the first dive of the day, to move the underwater dredge.
Alexander Sotiriou getting ready for the first dive of the day, to move the underwater dredge.
Here's Gemma Smith, ready for business.
Here’s Gemma Smith, ready for business.
Captain Mihalis Kelaidis helping Evan Kovacs & Brett Seymour back into the boat after their dive.
Captain Mihalis Kelaidis helping Evan Kovacs & Brett Seymour back into the boat after their dive.

Excavating

The underwater excavation is currently in full swing, with multiple 2-3 diver teams making the most of their bottom time each day.

A very detailed map has been created for the site by an underwater robot at the beginning of summer and last year, meaning that everything retrieved from the shipwreck can be plotted on this blueprint, which helps us better understand the shipwreck by studying the spatial relationship between objects.

If you go back a few posts, an explanation was provided about how the underwater dredge works. It’s currently a major tool in helping uncover thousands of years of sand/silt/gravel. Today’s photos are by Brett Seymour.

Dives are staged to maximise efficiency, with decompression time often overlapping so that multiple buddy pairs complete their hang time together.
Dives are staged to maximise efficiency, with decompression time often overlapping so that multiple buddy pairs complete their hang time together.
Here's the underwater dredge in action.
Here’s the underwater dredge in action.