NEWS

Ancient Helike resurfaces after 2,400-year burial

The first traces of the vanished ancient city of Helike, which was wiped off the face of the earth by earthquake and tidal wave 24 centuries ago, have emerged in the northern Peloponnese, according to the findings of recent excavations made public yesterday. Archaeologist Dora Katsonopoulou said classical building remains bearing strong signs of destruction by earthquake that were found this summer seven kilometers from the town of Aigion, in the Gulf of Patras, unquestionably belong to Helike, for decades one of the most elusive targets of Greek archaeology. The walls of two classical buildings emerged in trial trenches 800 meters from the sea, under two meters of dark sediment from a lagoon. This bears out ancient descriptions of Helike being visible underwater up to five centuries after its destruction in 373 BC. What else could it be other than Helike? asked Katsonopoulou, a native of the area who, together with US physicist Steven Soter, has headed a team seeking the lost city for over 13 years. Among the building remains, archaeologists found a profusion of pottery, terracotta figurines and other classical artifacts, including a silver coin of Sicyon dating between 400 and 370 BC. We no longer have indications of the sunken city, but strong evidence, Katsonopoulou said. This is the beginning of a thread which we will pursue next year. The 373 BC earthquake caused the ground on which Helike was built to subside. A tidal wave then swept into the depression, creating a shallow lagoon with an outlet to the sea, which became a swamp in Roman times and gradually became silted up. And he claimed that this development gave the lie to all these New Democracy politicians who, for twelve entire months, have been planting mines in the national land register with scare-mongering, scandal-mongering and lies.