By Maria Fernanda Pereira Ywazaki
March 31, 2015
In 1967 English archeologist Nicholas Flemming discovered the oldest known submerged city: Pavlopetri. Located off the coast of southern Laconia in Greece, Pavlopetri offers an unprecedented way to experience ancient history.
The University of Nottingham teamed with the Greek government in 2009 to research the submerged city. What they found exceeded all expectations. Archeologists surveyed the whole undersea town of 15 residential buildings, along with streets, courtyards, religious structures and shattered pottery. Subaquatic and never reoccupied, Pavlopetri “ represents a frozen moment of the past,” said Elias Spondylis, co-director of the project with Dr. John Henderson.
Pavlopetri surprised archeologists with its uniqueness. They have enough evidence to presume that it was a planned town, setting it apart from all the other underwater cities. Not only that, but it was discovered that this sunken town existed in the early Bronze Era, approximately 5,000 years ago.
It is still uncertain what caused the city to sink. Possible answers include earthquakes or rising of the sea-level. Whatever the cause, archaeologists said it happened approximately in 1,000 B.C.
Once a thriving harbor, Pavlopetri has evidence of being an important settlement, a key part of both local and long-distance trade throughout the Mediterranean. Although there are older sunken cities that have been discovered, Pavlopetri is unique, scientists say, becasuse it was a planned town, unlike the other ancient sunken cities that grew into existence. Pavlopetri also offers insight into early trade methods and how it was managed.
Taking into account all the new evidence, historians believe the town was inhabited by farmers, livestock breeders and fishermen. There are several weights used for weaving looms, which suggests that the women and children produced textile and valuable clothing, adding to the importance of the settlement.
There is still much more to learn about Pavlopetri, and hopefully the new findings will help to make people conscious of the need to preserve it and not destroy it from anchor dragging and careless touristing.