National Geographic : 1954 Jan
36 Jacques-Yves Cousteau Divers in Calypso's Mess Swap Tales of Undersea Salvage Cousteau's divers were spelled on week ends and holidays by volunteers fascinated by submarine archeology. Occasionally one fed an octopus into the suction pipe to startle scientists at the filter end, but all worked hard. Here Ertaud, Falco, Davso, Goiran, and Girault relax over a bottle of raspberry cordial. razzo tile. The central mosaic had a wave pattern border, suggesting the sea. Another mosaic displayed an amphora-shaped vase in flower garlands. We divers walked sadly around, looking down. Then we whistled. We crowded around a floor mosaic of a porpoise entwined with an anchor, such as the one on the "SES" amphorae. Someone discovered the second mosaic, an even more surprising one. It showed a beribboned trident, almost the same trident as the Grand Congloue marks, but finer in detail. James Dugan, a member of the group, squatted down with a yell of triumph. The trident exactly resembled a Roman E. Be tween the tines were two S-shaped brackets. By rearranging this possible cipher, we had "SES"! (Page 32.) I happened to notice some black pebbles in the dust, which may have been mosaic stones. They were black volcanic pebbles of the same type as those picked up by our suction pipe in the Grand Congloue wreck. These interesting coincidences and the fact that the house is in the sumptuous peristyle design that Livy had attributed to Sestius' house brought us very near the conclusion that we were standing in the house of our shipowner. Marcade remarked that it was a fine villa, but it had never been quite finished. We wondered whether Sestius had gone broke when his big ship disappeared somewhere west of Latium. We do not ask anyone to believe that it was actually Sestius' house. Marcade smiled at the suggestion and pointed out that there was no proof, despite the interesting clues. We live in a skeptical age of science. Some of us, however, will always secretly believe that this was in truth Sestius' villa. 3,500 Dives Thus Far Our basic work, in any event, lies not in the sun-drenched ruins of Delos but in the chill, gray underworld off Grand Congloue. In one year our divers have logged 3,500 dives. Yet they may have to plunge at least as many times again before we shall have cleared the last amphora, the last dish, the last link with Sestius' world from his ill-fated ship. To that task we turn in 1954.