It has been called the discovery of the century. First discovered in 1900 by a team of Greek sponge divers who on their way back from an expedition in Africa were caught in a terrible storm. They had no choice but to seek refuge in a safe harbor and wait it out. But there was no reason why they couldn’t dive for some more sponges in the process. The first diver to return to the surface claimed that instead of sponges he found a heap of rotting corpses and horses on the sea bed. Immediately more divers were sent down to investigate and the rest is now history. What they found purely by chance was the largest horde of ancient Greek treasures ever found, including the Antikythera Mechanism – better known as the world’s first ever computer, believed to have been designed by the ancient Greek mathematician, engineer and astronomer, Archimides, in the 3rd century B.C.
Decades of research revealed that the device was a clockwork computer, with more than 30 gearwheels that could exhibit and predict the workings of the solar system. Nothing close to its complexity appears again in the historical record for well over 1000 years. The device recast our understanding of ancient technology and indicated that geared mechanisms – which led to the invention of modern clocks and the automated machinery that drove the industrial revolution – began not in Medieval Europe, but more than 2000 years ago in Greece.
In 1976, a second expedition takes place led by marine explorer Jacques Cousteau and his scuba team. They excavate a small area of the site and bring up hundreds of small items including jewelry, statuettes and coins. But, Jacques said that there was much more buried under the sand and that the ship’s cargo hadn’t been found yet, but the cargo hold was just too deep and dangerous for divers to access.
Now, an international team headed by the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts has come back to resume exploration. They hope to uncover more exquisite statues, or even other examples of advanced technology. It is possible that the ship contained several geared devices.
With fresh new funds that have reached 1.8 million dollars and an ingenious robotic diving suit called the Exosuit that enable divers to operate safely down to depths of 300 meters, researchers believe that the discovery that dreams are made of is close at hand.