Researchers to use exosuit to search Antikythera wreck

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Using the latest advances in technology and robotics, archaeology will strive to extract more secrets from an ancient shipwreck that once yielded the unique Antikythera Mechanism, representing one of humanity’s earliest steps on the road to high technology.

Researchers to use exosuit to search Antikythera wreck
A diver will fly around the wreck of an ancient Greek ship later this year, looking to shed 
light on the Antikythera mechanism [Credit: Greek Reporter]

The 2000-year-old artifact, dubbed the world’s first ‘analog’ computer, was recovered from a Roman-era ship that foundered off the island of Antikythera in the early 20th century and was first discovered by a local sponge diver. This coming summer, according to a report in the June issue of “New Scientist”, Greek and American researchers will return to explore the depths around the shipwreck using a diver wearing a robotic ‘exoskeleton’ dubbed “Exosuit”.

The cutting-edge diving suit, essentially still in an experimental stage, will be worn by U.S. divers who will be able to remain deep underwater for extended periods of time, enabling them to conduct excavations and handle the fragile ancient objects with due care.

Researchers to use exosuit to search Antikythera wreck
The exosuit [Credit: American Museum of Natural History]

Scientists are optimistic that the site will yield a second device like the Antikythera Mechanism, currently the centrepiece of an exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens until June 29, while a preliminary survey last year showed a wealth of artefacts scattered over an area of about 50 metres by 10 metres, as well as a second unknown shipwreck next to the one already found.

The 1.5-million-dollar Exosuit was made by the Canadian robotics firm Nuytco Research and comes equipped with a number of features that will allow divers to work at the 120-metre depths for an essentially unlimited period of time, without being at risk from decompression sickness.

According to the article, the first real test of the suit will take place in July, during underwater surveys off the northeast coast of the United States and the Antikythera mission will take place immediately afterward.

Source: ANA MPA [June 05, 2014]

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