A Kongsberg-made robot has discovered a 300-year-old Spanish shipwreck in the Caribbean Sea which could be worth $17 billion.
This made us wonder whether such autonomous underwater vessels could help more light on the ancient world, of more than 3,000 or even 30,000 years ago.
Deep sea divers and archaeologists have found literally hundreds of complex architectural structures in the world’s oceans, hundreds of feet below the surface of the water.
The discoveries suggest that a bygone civilization was washed away by something like Noah’s flood, a story which appears in many religions in one form or another, even in ancient Sumerian texts dating back approximately 5,000 years.
But given that sea levels would have been low enough to allow the building of those structures 15-30,000 years ago, they are yet another part of the mysterious puzzle ancient civilisations have left for us to figure out.
Researchers are busily trying to piece together the details of what actually happened and when, and there are many theories about such things, almost all of them at once more fascinating and more plausible than mainstream history tends to hold to be the official truth.
The gulf between the “mainstream” and what could be described as “alternative” research will probably be bridged eventually, but not without the re-writing of hundreds and hundreds of history and archaeology books, something which many people are loathed to do for many reasons, some of which are obvious, others inexplicable.
Underwater structures have been found off the coast of Japan and India which are thought to date back more than 12,000 years, which would make them the oldest complex, megalithic stone buildings ever discovered.
According to alternative researchers, these buildings show many signs of the use of advanced construction technology and techniques, the like of which would be difficult to replicate even today.
Many other similarly sophisticated structures have been found under the sea in other parts of the world, including 300 in the Mediterranean Sea, which straddles southern Europe and northern Africa.
Alternative historians, archaeologists and researchers suggest that, when these structures were originally built by people who we don’t seem to know, sea levels were around 150 meters lower than they are now.
Exploring them can be expensive, time-consuming and potentially dangerous. Which is why robots would be the perfect solution in this instance.
There are numerous companies developing and already offering underwater unmanned vessels which could be used for such underwater research work, and it’s probably only a matter of time before we hear of stories like the one that made the headlines recently.
An underwater robot is said to have discovered treasure worth up to a staggering $17 billion, according to CBS. In this instance, it was the discovery of a relatively recent Spanish shipwreck, dating back a mere 300 years.
The robot which discovered it is the Remus 6000, an autonomous underwater vehicle produced by Kongsberg, which has made other similar machines, and can dive up to depths of four miles.
The shipwreck was found in the Caribbean Sea, and photographs show “tell-tale signs” of cannons associated with Spanish vessel San José, according to a CBS report. (See video below.)
While other discoveries are almost certainly not going to yield treasures of such monetary value as this one, the discoveries that robots can potentially make at ancient underwater sites would be priceless.
This is not, of course, a new suggestion and marine archaeologists have been using underwater robots in their work for quite some time.
In fact, the underwater exploration sector, or market, has grown so fast in the past few years that LiveScience.com was able to make a list of 24 underwater drones, many of which may be suitable for archaeology.
Some underwater drones which have been specifically designed for marine archaeology have been highlighted in an interesting article by Dive Magazine.
And the European Union has funded a special project to develop what’s called the “Archaeological RObot systems for the World’s Seas”, or the Arrows Project for short. (See picture below.)
The Arrows robot is relatively small – slightly larger than a coffee mug – and may be affordable for any significantly well-sourced archaeological expedition, or indeed treasure hunt – or both.
As explained on the project’s website: “Arrows proposes to adapt and develop low cost autonomous underwater vehicle technologies to significantly reduce the cost of archaeological operations, covering the full extent of archaeological campaign.”
As well as the drone itself, Arrows provides custom-built interfaces and software systems specific to a particular expedition, although it’s not clear from the website whether or not the system is commercially available.
We will look into this subject further and perhaps produce a list of our own of underwater robots and highlight their applications at some time in the future.
Generally speaking, however, these things tend to become the domain of defense industry, which we don’t cover as much.