Research and Discovery
In its earliest days, diving was practiced by free divers or divers in bells, barrels or other such rudimentary equipment. The earliest known diving suit was built around 1430. The principle of linking the diver's head to the air above with a hose was continued, while various experiments on an autonomous respiratory system were conducted. In the late eighteenth century, experiments proliferated, and for the first time, suits offered a certain "liberty and ease of operation" to the diver, still very relatively speaking.
"Plan for a diver's equipment", 1715
Chevalier de Beauve, a guardsman in the Navy at Brest, conceived this extraordinary contraption in the eighteenth century.
The diver is dressed in a waterproof suit which is closed in the back with copper rods. The combination is connected at the wrists with simple clamps. The shoes are sandals with lead soles.
The diver's helmet is joined at the neck by a "corset" that is resistant to water pressure. Two leather tubes connected to the helmet supply the air which is pumped in from the surface.
The "free man" and the "confined man", 1719
The free man is a diver wearing a diving suit, his head in a box with a porthole. Detachable lead weights, serving as ballast, are controlled by four tourniquets attached to the belt.
The breathing mechanism consists of four copper siphons; the two in front are for "inhalation", the other two for "exhalation". Between the two pumps is a "fountain" which contains the air reservoir
The confined man is placed on his stomach in an oblong box, facing a porthole. The box is attached to two brackets fixed on a sloop. The diver can use a rope around his body to apportion the air which is delivered through six curved hoses. Each of the hoses has at one end a kind of sprinkler head for breathing air in, at the other end a protuberance to expel the spent air.
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