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17-10-2009

World's oldest submerged city dates back 5.000 years

Archaeologists surveying the world’s oldest submerged town have found ceramics dating back to the Final Neolithic. Their discovery suggests that Pavlopetri, off the southern Laconia coast of Greece, was occupied some 5,000 years ago. And that’s  at least 1,200 years earlier than originally thought when the city was discovered and surveyed in 1967 by Nick Flemming of university of Cambridge.

The Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project an international team, given special permission to dive by the Greek government. This summer the team carried out a detailed digital underwater survey and study of the structural remains, which until this year were thought to belong to the Mycenaean period — around 1600 to 1000 BC. The survey surpassed all their expectations. Their investigations revealed another 150 square metres of new buildings as well as ceramics that suggest the site was occupied throughout the Bronze Age - from at least 2800 BC to 1100 BC. This fresh information puts the world's oldest submerged town well over a millennium older than previously thought.

Dr Jon Henderson - underwater archaeologist from the Department of Archaeology at The University of Nottingham -: “This site is unique in that we have almost the complete town plan, the main streets and domestic buildings, courtyards, rock-cut tombs and what appear to be religious buildings, clearly visible on the seabed. Equally as a harbour settlement, the study of the archaeological material we have recovered will be extremely important in terms of revealing how maritime trade was conducted and managed in the Bronze Age.”

One of the most important discoveries has been what is believed to be a large rectangular great hall, known as a "Megaron", from the early Bronze Age period.
The Archaeological Co-ordinator Dr Chrysanthi Gallou a postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Nottingham is an expert in Aegean Prehistory and the archaeology of Laconia.

Dr Gallou said: “The new ceramic finds form a complete and exceptional corpus of pottery covering all sub-phases from the Final Neolithic period (mid 4th millennium BC) to the end of the Late Bronze Age (1100 BC).

The Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project is at the start of a five-year study. It  aims to establish exactly when the site was occupied, what it was used for and through a systematic study of the geomorphology of the area, how the town became submerged. 
The work is being carried out by a multidisciplinary team led by Mr Elias Spondylis, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture in Greece and Dr Jon Henderson, an underwater archaeologist from the Department of Archaeology at The University of Nottingham. Four more fieldwork seasons are planned before their research is published in full in 2014.


Source: Science Daily , BBC news,


large rectangular great hall, Megaron, from the early Bronze Age period.


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