Every Easter Sunday on the small Greek island of Chios a fireworks war breaks out between two rival parishes. This year 70,000 rockets will be used in Chios.
In a bizarre but long-cherished local tradition, two Orthodox churches in the town of Vrontados fire rockets at each other’s churches – while services are held. The objective is to hit the other church’s bell, but many rockets go astray, causing locals to rush frantically for cover. And some say they are sick of having to repair their damaged homes.
Sometime in the fourth century B.C., a Greek merchant ship sank off Chios and the Oinoussai islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. The wooden vessel may have succumbed to a storm or a fire, or maybe rough weather caused the cargo of 400 ceramic jars filled with wine and olive oil to shift without warning. The ship went down in 60 meters (about 200 feet) of water, where it remained unnoticed for centuries.
The classical-era ship might never have divulged to archaeologists its clues to ancient Greek culture, except for a research team from MIT, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR). They used a novel autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to make a high-precision photometric survey of the site last July. Using techniques perfected by MIT and WHOI researchers over the past eight years, the robot accomplished in two days what would have taken divers years of effort.
The researchers have released a few of the photographs showing detailed images of some of the remnants of the ship’s cargo lying on the ocean floor near Chios, where it’s been since about 350 B.C. The researchers took more than 7,000 images, which will eventually be combined into one mosaic of the entire wreck site.
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