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Documentary Brings World's Oldest Underwater City Back to Life

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Christiana Hanaman
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« on: October 08, 2011, 04:22:16 pm »

Documentary Brings World's Oldest Underwater City Back to Life

ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2011) Movie industry computer graphics and the very latest digital marine technology have brought the world's oldest submerged city back to life in a BBC Two documentary due to be shown this Sunday (October 9) at 8 pm.

Just a few metres under the sea, off the southern coast of Greece, lies Pavlopetri -- the oldest submerged city in the world. A team of archaeologists from The University of Nottingham, working with the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, has spent the last three years surveying the site which was first discovered in the late 1960's. This summer the city, which dates back over 5,000 years, became the first underwater city to be fully digitally mapped and recorded creating a highly detailed stone by stone plan in photo-realistic 3D: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pavlopetri/index.aspx

In a ground breaking collaboration, movie industry CGI specialists were invited to be part of a research team in the field to use state-of-the-art computer graphics in combination with the archaeological survey data as it was recovered to help bring the ancient city back to life. This story will be told in a one hour BBC Two documentary -- City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015yh6f

Working with experts in acoustic sonar and the latest digital survey techniques Dr Jon Henderson from the Department of Archaeology at Nottingham has been able to record the entire city, which covers over 80,000 square metres.

Using an advanced stereo-mapping robot, developed by the Australian Centre of Field Robotics at Sydney University, the entire city was recorded to a resolution of a few centimetres. From tiny graves, to door steps, from the walls of huge buildings which line the ancient streets to the ancient artefacts that litter the seabed -- every item was recorded in high resolution 3D creating a resource that can be analysed and studied by other archaeologists for years to come.

Dr Henderson said: "Pavlopetri offers a unique opportunity to study in detail how an ancient port functioned, how ships came in and, most importantly, the extent of maritime contacts and trade in the Bronze Age.

"There is much about Pavlopetri that can be paralleled in our own towns and cities, our own suburban way of life -- people living side by side along planned out streets. This was not a village of farmers but a stratified society where people had professions -- there were city leaders, officials, scribes, merchants, traders, craftsmen (potters, bronze workers, and artists), soldiers, sailors, farmers, shepherds and also probably slaves. Greek Bronze Age society was becoming hierarchical and very organized; everyone had a clearly defined role to play."

But occupation of this site began long before that. Dr Henderson and his team have discovered evidence to suggest that people were living here as early as the Stone Age. The site then developed and grew to span the whole of the Bronze Age from 3,000 to 1,000 BC.

Dr Henderson said: "This is the period of the first European civilizations -- the Minoans from Crete and later the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece. Just over 100 years ago these civilizations were entirely unknown to archaeologists and since then they have turned out to be much more advanced than anyone had previously believed."

This year a team from the BBC joined Dr Henderson and experts from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities to digitally raise it from the seabed.

One of the core aims of the current project is to determine how Pavlopetri ended up underwater in the first place.

Dr Henderson said: "From the recovered finds it seems that occupation ceased at the site sometime before 1,000 BC. Since then the Bronze Age building foundations have become submerged by around 4-5 m of water. The answer is likely to be related to earthquake activity -- the East Mediterranean is one of the most tectonically active areas in the world -- and the team have been sampling and surveying the surrounding coastline to determine whether the city was submerged during one dramatic event or more likely if it gradually sank after a series of smaller earthquakes over the last 3,000 years.

'City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri' will show how the latest in cutting-edge science and technology has been used 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 will reveal, for the first time how a city that has been lost to the sea for 3,000 years would once have looked and operated.

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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 04:28:08 pm »

Race To Preserve The World’s Oldest Submerged Town: Pavlopetri, Greece

ScienceDaily (May 13, 2009) — The oldest submerged town in the world is about to give up its secrets — with the help of equipment that could revolutionise underwater archaeology.


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 thirty-seven cist graves which are thought to belong to the Mycenaean period (c.1680-1180 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 archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson, from The University of Nottingham, will be the first archaeologist to have official access to the site in 40 years. Despite its potential international importance no work has been carried out at the site since it was first mapped in 1968 and Dr Henderson has had to get special permission from the Greek government to examine the submerged town.

Although Mycenaean power was largely based on their control of the sea, little is known about the workings of the harbour towns of the period as archaeology to date has focused on the better known inland palaces and citadels. Pavlopetri was presumably once a thriving harbour town where the inhabitants conducted local and long distance trade throughout the Mediterranean — its sandy and well-protected bay would have been ideal for beaching Bronze Age ships. As such the site offers major new insights into the workings of Mycenaean society.

The aim of Dr Henderson’s 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.

Dr Henderson, from the Underwater Archaeology Research Centre (UARC) in the Department of Archaeology, said: “This site is of rare international archaeological importance. It is imperative that the fragile remains of this town are accurately recorded and preserved before they are lost forever. A fundamental aim of the project is to raise awareness of the importance of the site and ensure that it is ethically managed and presented to the public in a way which is sustainable and of benefit to both the development of tourism and the local community.”

The submerged buildings, courtyards, streets, tombs and graves, lie just off a sandy stretch of beach close to an area popular with holiday makers and campers. 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.

The survey, in collaboration with Mr Elias Spondylis of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities 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.

Dr Henderson and his team will carry out a detailed millimeter 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, three dimensional digital surveys of seabed features and underwater structures to sub-millimetre accuracy in a matter of minutes.

Dr Henderson said: “The ability to survey submerged structures, from shipwrecks to sunken cities, quickly, accurately and more importantly, cost effectively, is a major obstacle to the future development of underwater archaeology. I believe we now have a technique which effectively solves this problem.”

Joining the team will be Dr Nicholas Flemming who discovered the site in 1967. The following year he led a team from the University of Cambridge who surveyed the area with hand tapes. The archaeological material — pottery, figurines, obsidian and small finds — they collected belong to the Early Helladic, Middle Helladic and Late Helladic period (c. 2800–1180 BC). A systematic assessment of the finds recovered at the time is currently being undertaken by Dr Chrysanthi Gallou at The University of Nottingham.

The project has received funding from the Institute of Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), The University of Nottingham and the British School of Archaeology at Athens but it is still £10,000 short of the amount needed to carry out the main archaeological survey.

Four annual fieldwork seasons are planned. This May and June the team will carry out a full underwater survey. Between 2010 and 2012 there will be three seasons of underwater excavations. After a study season in 2013 the findings of Dr Henderson’s research will be published in 2014.

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University of Nottingham (2009, May 13). Race To Preserve The World’s Oldest Submerged Town: Pavlopetri, Greece. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/05/090512093635.htm

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Christiana Hanaman
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2011, 04:29:00 pm »



The ancient town of Pavlopetri lies in three to four meters of water just off the coast of southern Laconia in Greece. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nottingham)
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2011, 04:30:16 pm »



Underwater archaeologists at Pavlopetri. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nottingham)
« Last Edit: October 08, 2011, 04:33:10 pm by Christiana Hanaman » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2011, 04:32:11 pm »

World's Oldest Submerged Town Dates Back 5,000 Years

ScienceDaily (Oct. 16, 2009) — 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 thought.

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.”

Possibly one of the most important discoveries has been the identification of what could be a megaron — a large rectangular great hall — from the Early Bronze Age period. They have also found over 150 metres of new buildings including what could be the first example of a pillar crypt ever discovered on the Greek mainland. Two new stone built cist graves were also discovered alongside what appears to be a Middle Bronze Age pithos burial.

Mr Spondylis said: “It is a rare find and it is significant because as a submerged site it was never re-occupied and therefore represents a frozen moment of the past.”

The Archaeological Co-ordinator Dr Chrysanthi Gallou a postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Nottingham is an expert in Aegean Prehistory and the archaeology of Laconia.

Dr Gallou said: “The new ceramic finds form a complete and exceptional corpus of pottery covering all sub-phases from the Final Neolithic period (mid 4th millennium BC) to the end of the Late Bronze Age (1100 BC). In addition, the interest from the local community in Laconia has been fantastic. The investigation at Pavlopetri offers a great opportunity for them to be actively involved in the preservation and management of the site, and subsequently for the cultural and touristic development of the wider region.”

The team was joined by Dr Nicholas Flemming, a marine geo-archaeologist from the Institute of Oceanography at the University of Southampton, who discovered the site in 1967 and returned the following year with a team from Cambridge University to carry out the first ever survey of the submerged town. Using just snorkels and tape measures they produced a detail plan of the prehistoric town which consisted of at least 15 separate buildings, courtyards, streets, two chamber tombs and at least 37 cist graves. Despite the potential international importance of Pavlopetri no further work was carried out at the site until this year.

This year, through a British School of Archaeology in Athens permit, The Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project began its five year study of the site with the aim of defining the history and development of Pavlopetri.

Four more fieldwork seasons are planned before their research is published in full in 2014.

To see the expedition for yourself, watch the video podcast on YouTube —

And on the University's Podcast website — http://communications.nottingham.ac.uk/podcasts.html.

Recommend this story on Facebook, Twitter,
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Story Source:

    The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Nottingham.

Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats:
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University of Nottingham (2009, October 16). World's Oldest Submerged Town Dates Back 5,000 Years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 8, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/10/091016101809.htm

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091016101809.htm

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