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Antikythera research 2014: An Interview with Theotokis Theodoulou

This iTheotokis Theodoulou inside the Exosuitnterview is dedicated to all scholars who have devoted their life to the Antikythera research and the members of the 1900-1901 mission.

Our deepest appreciation goes to archaeologists Angeliki Simossi and Theotokis Theodoulou, the directors of the research who has found time to talk to us despite their busy schedule.

In this interview which took place prior to the start of the new Antikythera research, we sat down with archaeologist Theotokis Theodoulou to discuss now on-going research:

[Emmaf]: Ms. Simossi has expressed her long-term dream to return to the Antikythera site. What made you personally interested in this research? 
[T. Theodoulou]: I am responsible for the Department of Crete of the Ephorate the last four years. In many discussions with my colleague Dimitris Kourkoumelis and who have been working for years in Kythera (Antidragonera classical wreck, Mentor shipwreck) and Brendan Foley we were pointing the worth of a survey of the nautical routes from Crete to Peloponnese and the re-locating and further investigation of the famous Antikythera wreck. Thus, in 2012 we proposed the conducting of a survey around the island of Antikythera in which we would also try to relocate the Antikythera Wreck, being. And so the story started.
 
[Emmaf]: You have been trained in the United States for the purpose of diving Exosuit. Can you tell us more about the training as well as your first experience wearing it underwater?
[T. Theodoulou]: It’s a kind of privilege to participate in the use of a just developed “space” equipment. And more important it is that you have the chance to adjust this new technology to the needs of underwater archaeology. The experience was really great. It is like a submarine you wear! On the other hand, it’s quite more simple than it looks and very efficient. It is also absolutely based on the effort of a team and not a “personal” one, as with usual diving equipment. That fits exactly the spirit of the whole effort undertaken the past three years from a divoded, professional team of scientist and divers to approach this holy grale of underwater archaeology.
 
[Emmaf]: Where do you plan to employ the Exosuit at the site and how deep do you intend to dive?
[T. Theodoulou]: We aim to use it, both for the exploration and excavation of the site itself, but also to go deeper and survey for a lost marble horse of the 1900 recovery. Depth limits for the suit is 1000fts. Do not forget that it is just a tool. Archaeology uses it to reach the human made objects. We will go to them as far as its use it is safe for the pilot and the equipment.
 
[Emmaf] :Now back to the excavation, Ms. Simossi has told us about a sandy area that you intend to excavate with the hope to come across interesting finds. How did the 2012 survey of the area helped you to get ready for the research and what are the main goals of the 2014 mission?
[T. Theodoulou]: In 2012 we circumnavigated the island underwater and we located what it was finally proved to be probably a second shipwreck in the quite near the shipwreck with the sculptures. In 2013 we mapped the whole island emphasizing in a more detailed map at the site of both shipwrecks. So now we know exactly the configuration of the seabed on which the two shipwrecks lay. 
Our plan for 2014 is to proceed with a quite more accurate digital mapping of the Antikythera shipwreck site (AUVS, ROVS, DIVERS), metal detecting the area, defining the limits of the objects expanding and excavate trial trench/es in certain points. The whole mission is going to be a trial one to give us as much more information for a future systematic excavation. 
 
[Emmaf]: What safety measurements will be employed at the site?
[T. Theodoulou]: This is something we are still working on, since it has to do with what we will finally find at the site. In any case modern technologies give us a lot of systems to use for the protection of the site, which of course cannot be announced in order to be more effective.
 
[Emmaf]: Can you tell us whether there are any items from the Antikythera shipwreck in the Harold Edgerton Collection?
[T. Theodoulou]: No, there are not objects. Just pictures and texts
 
[Emmaf]: And finally Johanna Hjalmarsson (University of Southampton) struck up a conversation about an Iceland Spar, a form of calcite, which was used in the past as a navigation aid. Was any such a find recovered at the Antikythera shipwreck?
[T. Theodoulou]: As far as I know not. But I did not have the chance to deal with all the finds of the 1900 and 1976 missions
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