Robot explores ancient Greek shipwreck

Last summer, a team researchers dispatched an autonomous undersea robot to explore a Greek merchant ship that sank in the eastern Aegean Sea in the fourth century BC. The scientists from MIT, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, are just now releasing images from the photometric survey. From the MIT News Office:

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The AUV scanned the scattered cargo and created a topographical sonar map while collecting thousands of high-resolution digital images, without ever physically touching the shipwreck. In all, 7,650 images were collected on four dives. WHOI archaeologists and engineers are assembling those images into mosaics that depict the minute features of the shipwreck with unmatched clarity and detail…

Much of the true value in cargo ships such as the Chios wreck is the information they provide about the networks that existed among the ancient Greeks and their trading partners. The wreck is "like a buried UPS truck. It provides a wealth of information that helps us figure out networks based on the contents of the truck," said (MIT professor David) Mindell.