Divers Return To Shipwreck Where Ancient Computer Was Discovered

Archaeologists are returning to a shipwreck in the Mediterranean, where the world’s oldest known computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, was discovered over a hundred years ago.

On Sept 15, archaeologist Dr. Brendan Foley will lead a team to the shipwreck, according to Yahoo News, employing an advanced underwater diving suit. The $1.3 million exosuit will allow divers to descend to depths of 150 meters (492 feet), enabling them to examine the shipwreck for longer periods of time.

Before divers descend to the shipwreck, the team will utilize a robotic submersible to map the site, as well as the surrounding seafloor. Foley and his team hope that this process will also reveal the presence of a second shipwreck that, as The Inquisitr has previously reported, is believed to lie nearby. Previously, archaeologists have only been able to operate in depths of up to 60 meters, leading them to believe that there is much yet to be recovered from the ancient shipwreck.

First discovered by sponge divers in 1900, the Antikythera shipwreck has yielded a trove of ancient relics, including 36 marble statues. In addition, the shipwreck contained what is considered to be one of the world’s most extraordinary discoveries: The Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s oldest computer.

Thought to be at least 2,000 years old, the Antikythera Mechanism consists of an intricate series of gears, according to IFLScience. Far from a rudimentary computer, the mechanism is complex, consisting of more than 30 individual bronze gears, and housed within a wooden frame decorated with 2,000 individual characters.

Although the history of the Antikythera computer is shrouded in mystery, scientists believe it was used by the ancient Greeks to calculate the movement of celestial bodies. It would be another 1,500 years before an astrological computer of similar complexity was fashioned in Europe.

The shipwreck has been carbon dated, revealing that it sank around 60 B.C. Researchers are unsure of the ship’s original mission. Some contend that it was meant to retrieve the statues discovered within the shipwreck, while others believe it was transporting a woman to Rome for marriage. This theory is supported by the discovery, during an excavation of the shipwreck by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s, of what some believe are fragments of a female skull and jawbone near jewelry.

The team intends to survey the entire shipwreck, and recover the full cargo within the next few years, further revealing the origins of the world’s most ancient computer.

[Image via Anthony McG]