Submerged city from Homer’s age to yield its secrets

May 13th, 2009 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 13 (IANS) Archaelogists are set to extract closely guarded secrets of the world’s oldest submerged city. The ancient town of Pavlopetri lies in three to four metres of water just off the coast of southern Laconia in Greece.
The ruins date from at least 2800 BC through to intact buildings, courtyards, streets, chamber tombs and some 37 graves which are thought to belong to the Mycenaean period (around 1180 BC).

This Bronze Age phase of Greece provides the historical setting for much Ancient Greek literature and myth, including Homer’s Age of Heroes.

Underwater researcher Jon Henderson, University of Nottingham, will be the first archaeologist to have official access to the site in 40 years.

Despite its international importance no work has been carried out at the site since it was first mapped in 1968. Henderson has had to get special permission from the Greek government to examine the submerged town.

The aim of his project is to discover the history and development of Pavlopetri, find out when it was occupied, what it was used for and through a systematic study of the geomorphology of the area establish why the town disappeared under the sea.

The survey, in collaboration with Elias Spondylis of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, will be carried out using equipment originally developed for the military and offshore oilfield market but looks set to transform underwater archaeological survey and recording.

Henderson and his team will carry out a detailed millimetre-accurate digital underwater survey of the site using an acoustic scanner developed by a major North American offshore engineering company.

The equipment can produce photo-realistic, 3-D digital surveys of seabed features and underwater structures to sub-millimetre accuracy in a matter of minutes, said a Nottingham release.

Under threat from tourism and industry, the remains are being damaged by boats dragging their anchors, inquisitive snorkelers on the hunt for souvenirs and the growth of marine organisms which are also taking their toll degrading the fragile 3,500 year old walls.

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