SCIENCE REPORT- Ancient City of Helike

By Jerilyn Watson

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Researchers have discovered objects that may be from the ancient Greek city of Helike (hah-LEE-key). The city was a center for worship of Poseidon, the ancient god of the sea. An earthquake and huge sea wave destroyed the city almost two-thousand-four-hundred years ago. The city ruins sank under the sea.

Dora Katsonopoulou and Steven Soter made the discoveries. They reported their findings at a recent meeting in Greece. Mizz Katsonopoulou is president of the Ancient Helike Society in the Greek city of Aigion. Mr. Soter works for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The scientists found the objects after digging near Aigion on the southwestern shore of the Gulf of Corinth. They found stones from a road and from the walls of buildings. They discovered objects made of clay and a piece of money made of bronze. This coin was about two-thousand-four-hundred years old.

The researchers also uncovered seashells and other remains of sea objects. This suggests that the city's remains were in the sea a long time.

The scientists have been looking for Helike for twelve years. They employed an expert to search the Gulf of Corinth with sound devices. The team then decided that Helike must be under land near the coast. Over the years the land in the area had been lifted.

Mizz Katsonopolou and Mr. Soter tested the material under the land surface. They used magnetic and radar devices to explore for buried wreckage. An area more than six-hundred-fifty meters wide showed evidence that people had once lived under the surface. The area is almost one kilometer from the current shore area.

The scientists will carry out more digging next summer. They will be looking for evidence of a buried road. This could lead them to find the main city of Helike.

They want to find the remains of Helike's major public buildings. This could help them discover what life was like during the most important period in ancient Greek history. They also might learn the mystery of the so-called lost city of Atlantis. Some experts suggest that Helike might have caused the Greek teacher Plato to write the story of Atlantis. Like Helike, Atlantis was a city said to have sunk beneath the sea.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson.

Voice of America Special English