Pavlopetri

Forty-eight centuries ago, a bronze-age settlement flourished on the southern coast of Peloponnese, about 30 miles south of what would two thousand years later become the important town of Sparta. The city had a harbour facing east on calm waters, and had a few dozen buildings, roads, a burial site, and probably more.Five thousand years later, we know about the ancient settlement because of a cataclismic event: a powerful earthquake, probably around the year 1000 BC (or maybe a series of earthquakes along a much longer time frame) caused the sinking of the ground around the old town, bringing the town floor three meters below sea level, and changing forever the topography of the area. 


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What was probably a peninsula south of  Pavlopetri became the small island of Elafonisos, and a shallow 400 meter wide channel opened up in between. 

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Because of the sinking, what remained of the town was not entirely destroyed: instead of being built over, all stones scavenged and reused, or buried underground, the town floor remained almost untouched, forgotten, and only slowly eroded by five thousand years of natural events. Nobody knew there was an old town down there, just a few meters off the shoreline, almost literally at a dive’s distance from the wonderfully scenic beach of Punta, a sandy strip backed by a lagoon and overlooking an amazing sea of crystal clear azure waters

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The ruins were discovered in 1967 by oceanographer Nicholas Flemming, and were mapped soon thereafter by british archaeologists. The picture that emerges from their work is that of a quite remarkable ancient town, covering an area of 300 by 150 meters, with over 15 buildings, roads, courtyards, and chamber tombs. Several archaeological findings dated the town at 2800 BC after an initial erroneous assessment putting it in the mycenean period (1700-1200BC).

Check this amazing video from Pavlopetri.


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