BBC Two Presents Documentary on the Sunken City of Pavlopetri

BBC Two Presents Documentary on the Sunken City of Pavlopetri

One of the oldest submerged archaeological town sites in the world is located underwater off the coast of southern Lakonia in Greece.

BBC Two follows the workings of a group of experts from the UK and Greece to digitally re-create and bring the sunken city to light with the help of hi-tech equipment and programs.

In 2009, the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, the Hellenic Center for Maritime Research and the University of Nottingham under a British School of Archaeology at Athens, began a 5-year collaborative project to outline the history and development of the submerged ancient town of Pavlopetri.

Over the coming years, the Pavlopetri Underwater Archaeology Project aims to establish when the site was occupied, what it was used for and, through a systematic study of the geomorphology of the area, how the town and the Elaphonisos Strait became submerged.

Having an almost complete town plan, including streets, buildings, and tombs, Pavlopetri was discovered in 1967 by Nicholas Flemming and mapped in 1968 by a team of archaeologists from Cambridge.

It has at least 15 buildings submerged in three to four meters of water. The newest discoveries in 2009 alone cover 9,000 square meters. Studies have shown that the first occupation date started around 2800 BC, so it includes material from the early Bronze Age, middle Minoan and Mycenaean era.

The town is believed to have submerged around 1000 BC and this is attributed to three different theories: the town sank after repeated seismic activity or a tsunami, the sea levels rose, or the soil eroded.

The area never re-emerged, so it was neither built-over nor disrupted by agriculture.

Although eroded over the centuries, the town layout is as it was thousands of years ago. The site is under threat of damage by boats dragging anchors, as well as by tourists and souvenir hunters.