A few days ago, we talked about the mysterious Mycenaean city of Sparta and its Bronze Age ruins. Well, this time around, archaeologists (from Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, University of Geneva and the Swiss School of Archaeology) have come across another Bronze Age site that pertains to a 4,500 years old ancient Greek city. Found submerged under water at the Kiladha Bay, in Argolic Gulf, the significant discovery entails a massive settlement (by 2nd millennium BC standards) that covers an area of 12 acres, or around 10 football fields.
Interestingly, the researchers had originally hoped to the find evidences for the oldest habitation center or small village in Europe that was at least 8,000 years old. Instead they mapped by chance the outlines of an entire underwater city. These conspicuous lines equated to imposing horseshoe-shaped foundations that bolstered nearby man-made walls. To that end, the series of fortifications allude to how massive towers might have played a crucial role in the city’s protection – thus accounting for huge defensive structures that were unknown in Greece until now. As Professor Julien Beck of the University of Geneva, explained –
The importance of our discovery is partly due to the large size. There must have been a brick superstructure above a stone foundation. The chances of finding such walls under water are extremely low. The full size of the facility is not yet known. We do not know why it is surrounded by fortifications.
Another fascinating part of the discovery relates to the number of artifacts salvaged from the underwater ruins. According the researchers, their number goes over a whopping 6,000, and includes items like – pottery, red ceramics, stone tools, and obsidian blades (all dating from the period of the 3rd millennium to 2nd millennium BC). These extant Ancient Greek objects are complemented on the architectural level, with the conventional layout of the city entailing a group of small buildings surrounded by fortified walls. The stone buildings in turn comprise variant forms and sizes, ranging from rectangular, circular to elliptical-shaped spaces.
Lastly, concerning the timeline of this underwater city’s creation and existence, the Ancient Greek settlement and its massive fortifications are contemporaneous with the Great Pyramid of Giza. Historically, it also corresponds to the Cycladic culture of Greece, an early Bronze Era civilization (far older than Mycenaean culture) known for its crafting of flat female idols from white marble. Unfortunately, many artifacts from this culture had been lost due to rampant looting mostly during the early 20th century. However, this new discovery might shed some new light into the network of such early Bronze Age coastal settlements, and how they initiated trade, shipping and daily economic affairs.