The amazing weather window continues and team in logging one of the most productive field season yet. Typical dive rotations include staggered archeologists / guardians who have a bottom time between 40 and 70 minutes with a total run time of 2 to 3 hours. In addition an imaging team jumps between the rotations capturing both still and 4K video.
The diving continues at Antikythera. We have had a run of exceptional weather with light winds from the west which allows the team to access the site under the protection of the island. Todays dives were focused on continued test excavations in known areas of the site that have yielded either diagnostic finds or metal detector signals. In addition, divers and archeologists worked to delineate the extent of the wreck site with the use of specially engineered metal detector capable of penetrating deep into the sediment or under rocks. Each “hit” is recorded on the GIS based high resolution map generated in 2014 with the use of a subsea tablet and will be investigated on subsequent dives. This growing database of artifacts, site diagnostics and surveyed areas aid the archeologists in understanding the position of the wreck and the 2000 year plus site formation process.
Upon completing the diving rotations the team was met back in Potamos Harbor by project supporters aboard the familiar M/V GLAROS. Those aboard included Panos Laskaridis and Dr. Ageliki Simosi, Director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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…
The “Return to Antikythera” international research team discovered a human skeleton during its ongoing excavation of the famous Antikythera Shipwreck (circa 65 B.C.). The shipwreck, which holds the remains of a Greek trading or cargo ship, is located off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea. The first skeleton recovered from the wreck site during the era of DNA analysis, this find could provide insight into the lives of people who lived 2100 years ago.
Led by archaeologists and technical experts from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the team excavated and recovered a human skull including a jaw and teeth, long bones of the arms and legs, ribs, and other remains. Other portions of the skeleton are still embedded in the seafloor, awaiting excavation during the next phase of operations.
“Archaeologists study the human past through the objects our ancestors created,” said Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with WHOI. “With the Antikythera Shipwreck, we can now connect directly with this person who sailed and died aboard the Antikythera ship.”
The Antikythera Shipwreck is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered, possibly a massive grain carrier. It was discovered and salvaged in 1900 by Greek sponge divers. In addition to dozens of marble statues and thousands of antiquities, their efforts produced the Antikythera Mechanism —an astounding artifact known as the world’s first computer. In 1976, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the CALYPSO crew returned to the wreck and recovered nearly 300 more objects, including skeletal remains of the passengers and crew.
The skeleton discovered on August 31, 2016, is the first to be recovered from an ancient shipwreck since the advent of DNA studies. Ancient DNA expert Dr. Hannes Schroeder of the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, hastened to Antikythera to view the remains. Once permission is obtained from the Greek authorities, samples will be sent to his laboratory for a full suite of analyses. If enough viable DNA is preserved in the bones, it may be possible to identify the ethnicity and geographic origin of the shipwreck victim.
“Against all odds, the bones survived over 2,000 years at the bottom of the sea and they appear to be in fairly good condition, which is incredible,” said Schroeder.
The Antikythera research team generates precise three-dimensional digital models of every artifact, allowing discoveries to be shared instantly and widely even if the objects remain on the sea floor. Several 3D models of the skeletal remains are available for researchers and the public to view on our devoted webpage.
Jonathan Knowles, Autodesk Explorer In Residence, said, “Our reality capture technology is not only helping share the amazing story of the Antikythera wreck with the world using digital models and 3D printed artifacts, it is enabling important preservation and furthering meaningful research.”
The project is supported by corporate partners Hublot (official diving watch and technical support), Autodesk, Cosmote (official telecommunication sponsor), Costa Navarino Resort (helicopter support) and private sponsors Swordspoint Foundation, Jane and James Orr, the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, the Domestic Property Committee of Kythera and Antikythera, the Municipality of Kythera, and private sponsors of WHOI.
The research team consists of archaeologists Dr. Theotokis Theodoulou and Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis (Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports); Research Specialist Dr. Brendan Foley (WHOI); archaeologist Alexander Tourtas; professional technical divers Edward O’Brien (WHOI), Philip Short, Alexandros Sotiriou, Nikolas Giannoulakis, and Gemma Smith; videographer Evan Kovacs; documentary director Michalis Tsimperopoulos; supported by Michalis Kelaidis, Dimitris Romio, and Dimitris Manoliades. The robotic mapping survey was conducted by Prof. Stefan Williams, Dr. Oscar Pizarro, and Christian Lees from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, University of Sydney. U.S. National Parks Service underwater photographer Brett Seymour and archaeologist Dr. David Conlin volunteer their time and expertise.
The Return to Antikythera project is supervised by the Director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities Dr. Aggeliki Simosi and is under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos.
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
7.30am – Load equipment into the vehicles & trailer, then move to the dock
9am – 10am – Dive teams descend, with the sequence and timing of descents depending on the days plan
10am -11.30am – Decompression
2.15pm – Lunch
3pm – 5pm showers and unwind
8pm – Dinner
10pm – Bed time
Then repeat the next day…
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.
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.
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.
The following text and photos were post by Tina Tavridou on her Facebook profile. We reproduce it here with her permission, since we think that people on the island is what matter the most. Looking forward to meet them all again in August and September!
“Spend three days on an island of 20 inhabitants and you get to meet them all. This album is a way to introduce the people of Antikythera to my friends in Greece and around the world and make their voices heard. Until next time!”
Myron (one more)
Restaurant owner, livestock
Wish: “That they think of us, that there is a doctor on the island, that they remember that there are people living on Antikythera, most of them over 50 years old.”
Forest ranger of Kythira and Antikythira, lived in Australia for 15 years, speaks perfect Aussie English
Wish: “Wishes for a beautiful summer to everyone, I wish people could plant trees, especially on Kythira and Antikythera, and protect them.”
Retired, spends about half the year on the island
Wish: “To have a doctor on the island and that it does not get depopulated. That we see as much as possible that there are visitors to liven it up.”
Retired sailor, hobbies hunting and fishing
Wish: “I wish our little island is never deserted and always has people; that the people in power do not forget us, because this is one of the small islands whose population will have an expiration date if we are not careful.”
Spent a month on the island hunting insects for a university disseration, I didn’t ask her for a wish since she is not local, just posting her photo because she is so lovely and everyone on the island will remember her and her butterfly net!
Wish: “That our land is full of people, I remember in the old days there were 70 children at school, 800 people lived here, we had two priests, today there are almost no children at all.”
Mother of 4
Wish: “That there is transportation. And that we become volunteers in our own town otherwise there is no moving forward. To clean the street, the trail, to cut a branch that is sticking out, not to sit and wait for everything to be done by the state”.