THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM - THE WORLD'S OLDEST COMPUTER
Were it not for chance and Greek sponge divers, the world would have never known the heights of Greek scientific prowess, the most advanced manifestation of which, is the Antikythera Mechanism.
In 1900, a party of Greek sponge divers from the small island of Symi returning from North Africa took refuge from a storm near Antikythera, a small island between Crete and the Peloponnese. After the storm had passed, one of the divers dove in search of clams for their dinner, only to resurface visibly shaken at the sight of a human hand rising out from an ancient wreck.
After months of bringing up numerous statues, both marble and bronze, during what was the first ever large scale underwater excavation, Greek archeologists found article 15087. What was thought to be a bunch of random metal pieces revealed itself to be a collection of gears and cogs, precisely arranged in a compact wooden structure capable of predicting the celestial paths of the sun, the moon, and the five planets visible from Earth without a telescope, i.e. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
From a civilization that discovered geometry, trigonometry, the use of the lever, and steam powered devices, came a device so intricate, with extremely precise gears placed into complex combinations of gear trains which could turn each other, and could thus calculate simultaneously and with extreme accuracy, the movements of stars and planets and the precise dates of eclipses and ancient games.
The device was called the ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM.
Focusing on its basic purpose of measurement of time, we have incorporated the structure of the Antikythera mechanism’s most famous piece into the Avyssos as a rotating seconds counter simulating the movement of the great mechanism showing the wearer the most important information - that his watch is working underwater.
The symian kampanelopetra
The Greek myth of Glaucus, otherwise called “The Green Mariner” tells of a freediver who ate a magical herb which gave him fins and a fish’s tale. In the wars with the Persians it is said that a Greek fisherman and his daughter swam underwater at night cutting the ropes of the Persian fleet's anchors, while it is also said that Athenians used freedivers to destroy underwater barriers while Aristotle first documented scientifically the freediving techniques of his times as well as the medical complications divers faced.
While the exact origins of Greek freediving history may be lost in the ages and Greek mythology, it is known that the Greek practice of freediving spans millenia and its final form is found in the simple yet effective technique of the Symian sponge divers of antiquity, still used until today.
This technique prescribed that the diver would dive naked into the sea, being dragged down by a heavy rock, called "KAMPANELOPETRA" or "petra" (stone in Greek), attached to a rope, thus descending quickly to the bottom of the ocean, and using the stone to step on in order to be equally quickly be pulled up to the surface, thereby minimizing descent and ascent times and maximizing the usable time on the bottom of the ocean.
The masters of this technique, the Symians (from the small, remote island of Symi in the Dodecanese) were recognized and admired as far back as antiquity, the legend being that they were descendants of a sea god who taught them how to freedive.
For us it is important to express the human side of every technological feat, myths, stories and legends included. The kampanelopetra to us, signifies a simple yet challenging way of life that many Greek sponge divers lived by. It was not just a technique, it was a way of life, being passed down from generation to generation until this day and it lives in the Avyssos as the shape of the hour markers, serving as a constant reminder of the hardship Greek sponge divers endured on a daily basis, all for the securing of their families’ subsistence.
STATHIS HATZIS - A NAME, A LEGEND
In July of 1913, Stathis Hatzis, who was described as an feeble man suffering from pulmonary emphysema, and who could barely hold his breath at surface level for more than 40 seconds, was called upon by the Italian navy to retrieve the lost anchor of its newly built battleship the "Regina Margherita".
After diving for three days straight, completing 16 deep dives, Stathis Hatzis is reported to have finally dived to a depth of 88 meters (his deepest dives exceeding 100 meters) for three and a half minutes where he found and secured the anchor of the Italian battleship Regina Margherita, ascending to the surface with nose bleeding and almost unconcious from exhaustion and oxygen deprivation.
This feat, which until then was considered impossible to contemporary medicine, intrigued the Italian doctors and sailors on board the battleship who spread the story which ultimately became the forefather of modern freediving, inspiring, among others the great Enzo Maiorca and Jacques Mayol to study Stathis Hatzis' technique, break record after record and popularize freediving as we know it today, while also keeping alive the kampanelopetra technique, today known as competitive skandalopetra.