Skandalopetra, the ancient diving method

What is a Skandalopetra.a Skandalopetra used at the Skandalopetra Free diving Games

The Skandalopetra is an artifact made by stone, usually from marble or granite, with rounded edges and hydrodynamic shape, weighting from 8-14 kilos.

For thousands of years now until a few years ago, the Skandalopetra was used by sponge divers as a diving and as an auxiliary tool.

The Skandalopetra dive is the most ancient and the safest diving method that ever existed.

Description of the Skandalopetra dive.Naked sponge diver diving with a skandalopetra - Nautical Museum of Kalymos Island

The Skandalopetra diving is free diving done in couples. The couple consists of the diver and the "kolaouzeris". They are connected and communicate through a rope tied on the Skandalopetra.

  • The diver descends keeping the Skandalopetra with his two hands. 
  • The kolaouzeris stays on the boat, keeps the rope, and makes sure that it is not entangle and that it is always taut.

During descending, the diver uses the Skandalopetra as weights for quick descending, as a steering wheel to change direction and as a brake to slow down or accelerate his diving beat.

Upon reaching the sea bed, the diver liberates his hands to collect the sponges.  When he is finished, he uses the rope to give the appropriate sign to the kolaouzeris. Then the kolaouzeris pulls the diver to the sea surface while the diver is standing on the Skandalopetra or hanging up on the rope.

From this small description it is obvious that the Skandalopetra is a tool with many uses. It is the equivalent of the weights and at the same time it is a steering wheel, an accelerator, a brake and a standing base. While the rope is used as a reference line and as a communication mean with the boat.

A real Skandalopetra dive.

Thanks to Bengt Borjeson, a pioneer underwater photographer and filmmaker from Sweden, we have a unique film from a real Skandalopetra dive back in 1964.

The safety of Skandalopetra dive

The Skandalopetra diving method has a history of thousands of years. Due to this fact it has reached the highest levels of perfection and safety.

The diver uses the minimum energy required to descent and ascent back to the surface. No hypoxia, death or any other side effects from free diving were ever mentioned. Apart from broken eardrums, that were mostly done on purpose, to permanently avoid the equalization process. 

Why the Skandalopetra was abandoned

The diving for sponges is a very hard work, with little performance and many labor costs.

When the Mediterranean countries nationalized their marine resources, the sponge diving fields seized to exist and so were the sponge diving groups.

For the remaining sponge diving groups to survive they had to use more productive equipment. So, the Skandalopetra diving method was totally abandoned! 

The future of Skandalopetra

Since 2003, there is an effort to revive the Skandalopetra dive as a free diving game. During the Skandalopetra Free Diving Games, anyone can try a dive and participate to the games. While highly regarded free diving athletes try to break the previous depth record.

Our dive leader Mikes Reissis diving with a skandalopetra woman free diving athlete diving with a skandalopetra child diving with a skandalopetra

Location map

Kalymnos Island