World’s oldest town older than previously thought–and underwater

By James G. Robertson, National Geographic Digital Media

A research team of Greek and English underwater archaeologists have discovered ceramics that date the world’s oldest submerged town to be 1,200 years older than previously thought, the Greek government announced today.

Pavlopetri, off the south coast of Laconia in Greece, was discovered in 1967 but left alone until earlier this year, when scientists from the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the University of Nottingham began using modern technology to map the submerged town.

The 1967 efforts simply used snorkels and measuring tapes to map out the town, finding 15 buildings and 37 graves.  This year’s efforts using digital underwater mapping technology discovered an additional 9,000 square meters (96,875 square feet) of the town.

“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,” said Jon Henderson, an underwater archaeologist from the University of Nottingham, in a statement.

The previous research dated the town at the Mycenaean period, around 1600 to 1000 BC.  The ceramics found this year suggest the town was inhabited during the Bronze Age, at least as early as 2800 BC.

The results of the five-year project are scheduled to be released in 2014.

You can watch video podcasts of the project at the University of Nottingham’s YouTube channel.

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn