October 08, 2011

Pavlopetri: 4,000-year old underwater city brought to life

Pavlopetri: A window on to Bronze Age suburban life
Semi-detached houses with gardens, clothes drying in the courtyards, walls and well-made streets - Pavlopetri epitomises the suburban way of life. Except that it's a Bronze Age port, submerged for millennia off the south-east coast of Greece.

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.

Apparently there is a 1-hour special on BBC Two: City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri
to be broadcast on Sunday:
Just off the southern coast of mainland Greece lies the oldest submerged city in the world. A city that thrived for 2000 years during the time that saw the birth of Western civilisation. An international team of experts uses the latest technology to investigate the site and digitally raise it from the seabed, to reveal the secrets of Pavlopetri.

Led by underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson, the team use the latest in cutting-edge science and technology to prise age-old secrets from the complex of streets and stone buildings that lie less than five metres below the surface. State-of-the-art CGI helps to raise the city from the seabed revealing, for the first time in 3,500 years, how Pavlopetri would once have looked and operated.

Jon Henderson is leading this ground-breaking project in collaboration with a team from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, and Nic Flemming, the man whose hunch led to the intriguing discovery of Pavlopetri in 1967. Also working alongside the archaeologists are a team from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, who aim to take underwater archaeology into the 21st century.

The team scour the sea floor for any artefacts that have eroded from the sands. The site is littered with thousands of fragments, each providing valuable clues to the everyday lives of the people of Pavlopetri. From the buildings to the trade goods to the everyday tableware, every artefact provides a window into a long-forgotten world.

Together these precious relics provide us with a window on a time when Pavlopetri would have been at its height, showing us what life was like in this distant age, and revealing how this city marks the start of Western civilisation.

Wikipedia article on Pavlopetri


Pascvaks said...

If only humans had evolved 20MYA when the seas were at the highest levels and their artifacts and remains were not washed and scattered and hidden by 100K year tides. Oh well, such is life.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

This study would seem to provide proof of concept, at least, to the viability of now submerged ancient sites during the Out of Africa era.

eurologist said...

This study would seem to provide proof of concept, at least, to the viability of now submerged ancient sites during the Out of Africa era.

If they left behind sizable towns with large houses made of stone... ;)

A better analogy for submerged ooA searches might be Mediterranean underwater caves.