The Stories Of 13 Incredible Sunken Cities From History — And What’s Left Of Them Today

Published May 14, 2024
Updated June 14, 2024

Pavlopetri, Greece: The Oldest Underwater City Ever Found

Prehistoric Cemetery Of Pavlopetri Greece

PitK / Alamy Stock PhotoA seaside view near the Prehistoric Cemetery of Pavlopetri, Greece.

In 1967, marine geo-archaeologist Nicholas Flemming discovered the remains of an ancient city off the coast of Laconia, Greece. A year later, a team of archaeologists from Cambridge University set out to explore Flemming’s discovery — revealing an entire sunken islet and city, now known as Pavlopetri.

Originally, Flemming and others dated the ruins to the Mycenaean period (1600 – 1100 B.C.E.), but in the years since, Pavlopetri has been proven to be even older, dating back to around 3500 B.C.E.

Pavlopetri is believed to have been a thriving harbor town. Some 5,000 years ago, when Western civilization was still in its infancy, experts believe it was a port that dominated the Mediterranean. It had incredibly well-designed roads, temples, and homes, all showing a planned city unrivaled by any others of its time.

For around 2,000 years, Pavlopetri thrived — and then, suddenly, it was gone. Around 1000 B.C.E., a great earthquake shook the town and the islet it stood on, pulling both into the sea. It never re-emerged, and with that, the ancient world’s greatest sea port was lost to time.

Today, however, the city remains incredibly well intact, especially given that it is the oldest of all the sunken cities we have found. There are full buildings that can be entered, streets that can be followed, and temples that can be explored.

Overall, these ruins offer an incredible insight into this ancient city. Marine archaeologists have found weaving looms still intact after thousands of years underwater. Weights were still attached to it, suggesting that they would have been worked by women and children.

The city had roads, two-story homes with gardens in the front yards, and even water systems with channels and pipes.

It was a city unlike any other — one that some believe may even have been the inspiration behind Atlantis itself.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.
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Oliver, Mark. "The Stories Of 13 Incredible Sunken Cities From History — And What’s Left Of Them Today.", May 14, 2024, Accessed June 14, 2024.