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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 -- at least 1,200 years earlier than originally thoug
These remarkable findings have been made public by the Greek government after the start of a five year collaborative project involving the Ephorate of
Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and The University of Nottingham.
As a Mycenaean town the site offers potential new insights into the workings of Mycenaean society. Pavlopetri has added importance as it was a maritime settlement from which the inhabitants coordinated local and long distance trade.
The Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project 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.
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.
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.
Dr Jon Henderson said: "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."
This summer it became the first underwater city to be fully digitally mapped and recorded in three dimensions, and then brought back to life with computer graphics. The result shows how much it has in common with port cities of today - Liverpool, London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo or Shanghai - despite the fact that its heyday was 4,000 years ago. Covering an area of about eight football pitches, Pavlopetri appears as a series of large areas of stones indicating building complexes, among which a network of walls can be traced. It is a city of well-built roads lined by detached and semi-detached two-storey houses. There are larger apparently public buildings and evidence of a complex water management system involving channels and guttering.