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Pavlopetri of Elafonissos, a modern ancient wonder

The sunken state, the ancient settlement “Pavlo Petri”, is located in Elafonisos, in the underwater area between the beach of Pounta and the islet of Pavlopetri that mediates, at 600 m North-NW from the port of Elafonisos.

New location here as the BBC downloaded the documentary from the previous link.

( Here is the excellent video with the BBC documentary with Greek subtitles)

In 1904 the geologist Fokion Negris mentioned the existence of an ancient city in the underwater area of ​​Elafonisos between the island of Elafonisos and the beach of Pounta Elafonisos, in southern Laconia. It is worth mentioning that Fokion Negris was the first president of the Academy of Athens in 1927, the first year of its establishment.

Later, in 1967, the oceanographer Dr. Nicholas Flemming of the University of Southampton – in the context of his studies on sea level changes in the Mediterranean – visited Pavlopetri in Elafonissos and found the existence of a submerged ancient city at a depth of 3-4 meters.

In 1968 Dr. Nicholas Flemming returned to Pavlopetri with a team of young archaeologists from the University of Cambridge and in collaboration with the Curator of Antiquities of Sparta, Professor Angelos Delivorrias mapped and dated the sunken state based on the surface finds. A rare prehistoric city with a residential plan (buildings, streets, squares) was then discovered. 15 separate buildings were identified and researched, with 5 streets, 2 chambered and at least 37 pit tombs and rare finds such as obsidian blades, household tools, animal figurine, bronze female figurine, samples of ceramic art, etc. were collected. In the reef, N / A of the sunken city there is a cemetery consisting of 60 tombs. Leake visited the cemetery in Pavlopetri in 1806,

During the research it was found that the submerged architectural remains that covered an area of ​​300 × 100m belonged to a prehistoric city, probably Mycenaean (ie 1680-1180 BC). Based on the findings then excavated, the team from the University of Cambridge expressed the view that Pavlopetri was first inhabited in 2800 BC. (Early Helladic times), while the buildings and roads date back to the Mycenaean times (1680–1180 BC). According to them – the habitation was limited during the Middle Helladic years, ie 2000-1680 BC.

According to their findings at the time, the settlement seemed to have been abandoned and parts of it inhabited or used during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times.

It was first published in Greece in the 1990s through the books of Dr. Elafonissiotis. Konstantinos Mentis.

In 2007 Dr. Nicholas Flemming , with Dr. Jon Henderson of the Center for Underwater Archeology at the University of Nottingham and Dr. Chrysanthi Gallou from the Center for Spartan & Peloponnesian Studies at the University of Nottingham visited Pavlopetri and in collaboration with the Program Director Elias Spondylis of the Ephorate of Marine Antiquities and the specialized team of the Greek Ministry of Culture undertook the Pavlopetri.

The research program has a duration of five years (2009-2013) and is carried out in collaboration with the Hellenic Center for Marine Research , under the auspices of the British School of Athens and with the approval of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

In 2009, the realization of a specialized archaeological-oceanographic program in Pavlopetri officially began, with the aim of re-researching the submerged ancient settlement using modern methods.

The five-year program aims to shed light on research questions on:

extent, dating and character of the submerged settlement in Elafonisos
the role of the settlement in the control of the Laconic gulf
the management of the maritime exchange networks in the prehistoric Mediterranean and – the participation of the prehistoric inhabitants of the settlement in the maritime exchange networks, as well as
when and for what reasons the state and the Strait of Elafonisos sank.
Four periods of research and excavation have been planned, and two have already been completed. The works will continue until 2012, in 2013 the data that have emerged will be studied and in 2014 the results are expected to be published.

The program is funded by the Institute of Aegean Prehistory, the University of Nottingham and the British School of Archeology in Athens.
The objectives of the recent research period were the digital mapping of the submerged settlement and the ancient coastline, the confirmation of the correctness of the research plan of 1968, the collection of surface findings, the preliminary study of the abandonment stages and the gradual subsidence of the settlement. coastline, and the preparation of a plan for the protection, maintenance, management and promotion of the settlement and its environment.

Within the framework of the program, a detailed marine geological-geomorphological-oceanographic research is prepared by the Hellenic Center for Marine Research, which will contribute -among other things- to the investigation of when, under what conditions and causes the prehistoric city and the Strait of Elafonisos sank.
From the researches of EL.KE.TH.E. in 2009 it appears that the city sank due to a series of earthquakes and tectonic episodes in the wider area combined with rising sea levels.

Initially, archaeologists believed that the settlement was first inhabited around 2800 BC. Archaeological research in 2009 found that the new evidence confirms that Pavlopetri is one of the oldest submerged states in the world, while there are the oldest indications for organized habitation as early as the 4th millennium BC.

It is worth noting that the mapping of underwater antiquities and the production of 3D photorealistic models of submerged architectural elements by Pavlopetri has been achieved using innovative methods and combinations of modern techniques, such as the sonar of Nautilus Ltd. and photo-stereogrammetry (Robotics Center of the University of Sydney), which were first applied to archaeological excavations in Pavlopetri.

In addition, a television production team of the British network of the BBC visited Elafonisos again this year, with the aim of watching – videotaping the research and producing a special documentary film on Pavlopetri, which was recently shown on the British television network. Indicative screening took place in the framework of the International Symposium on Cape Malia, April 2011.

The research program in Pavlopetri, Elafonissos is in progress.

Research group:

Dr. Jon Henderson, Head, Center for Marine Archeology, University of Nottingham and
Dr. Chrysanthi Gallou, Center for Spartan & Peloponnesian Studies, University of Nottingham
Dr. Angeliki Simosi, Head, Ephorate of Marine Antiquities and
Mr. Elias Spondylis, General Manager of the Program, Director of Research, Ephorate of Marine Antiquities (as provided by Greek Law)
Dr. Dimitris Sakellariou, Hellenic Center for Marine Research
Sources (information & photographic material) and additional information about the investigations in Pavlopetri:

University of Nottigham
Guardian article
BBC coverage
Annual of the British school at Athens (1956, 1960, 1961, 1969)
Anomitris Tzortzis, Historical publications in the Elafonisian and Vatiki press
Mentis Konstantinos, 1993: Elafonissi the Smigopelaga Island, published by Lafonisiotiki Library, Piraeus.
Mentis Kostas, 1994: S. Peloponnesus – Kithira – Elafonisos, Mentis Editions – Cultura Literature, Piraeus
Prize, Eleni A. Papadopoulou, “Pavlopetri-One of the oldest SUBMARKED CITIES in the world”
As published on the website of the Municipality of Elafonisos here