Situated just off the Peloponnese coast of southern Laconia in the Peloponnese, the sunken city of Pavlopetri is one of the only clues that remains of the mysterious Pelasgians of Greek mythology. It is here that the legend of the mythical ruler Pelasgos still resonates loudest. It is here that divers may one day find Greece’s true origins. It is beneath the clear Aegean Seas that one day divers might solve the riddle of the Minoans as well.
Pounta is a small coastal village on the west coast of Paros, Greece, and it is here in 1967 that Nicholas Flemming discovered the world’s oldest submerged city way back in 1967. The city was originally dated to sometime during the Mycenean era, but subsequent research indicates Pavlopetri was established sometime before 2800 BC. Remnants of transitional material from Minoan era and the early Bronze Age have been discovered too. The video below shows the sunken city from above the waves and the amazing waters off the coast of Paros.
The mysterious Pelasgians are as much an enigma today as they were in late antiquity. Some believe they were the original Greek people, later replaced by the Mycenaeans. But their disappearance leaves us few clues as to who they were. According to Greek mythology, Pelasgos was the ancestor of the Pelasgians. Some sources say Pelasgos was the son of Arestor, and that he immigrated to Arcadia, and founded the city of Parrhasia. Other sources link the mythical leader to the King of Argos, still another says he was the son of the god Poseidon and Larissa.
One of the most interesting, and most important references to these Pelagians come from Homer’s Odyssey. In this account, when the hero Odysseus finally got home to Penelope and Ithaca, he at first pretended to be a “Pelasgkian” from Crete, in order to hide his true identity. The passage goes something like this:
“There is a land called Crete … / ringed by the wine-dark sea with rolling whitecaps — / handsome country, fertile, thronged with people / well past counting — boasting ninety cities, / language mixing with language side-by -side. / First come the Achaeans, then the native Cretans, / hardy, gallant in action, then Cydonian clansmen, / Dorians living in three tribes, and proud Pelasgians last”.
The legends and stories of these fascinating people also point to other mysteries like the undeciphered language of the Minoans. Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphs having never been deciphered, I wonder if Herodotus’ mention of the Pelasgians speaking a strange language was a clue. He observed:
“Neither the Crestonians nor the Placians speak the same language as any of their neighbors but do speak the same language as each other.”
He concludes that “the Pelasgians spoke a non-Greek language”. Another point of interest it the fact Ancient writings seem to use the terms Pelasgians and Minyans (the founders of Cyrene Libya) interchangeably. Does this mean they were the same people? Furthermore, Linear A has been shown to possess “Luwian and Pelasgian influences.” (Fred C. Woudhuizen)
A gold double axe and fragments of a silver example from Arkalokhori may in fact bear the Pelasgian name for the goddess Demeter, and there is evidence the Greek name for Poseidon came from Crete and Pelasgian homelanders as well. I’ll not go into it here, but the aforementioned author has connected the supposed legendary names of Sarpedon, and Glaukos, names paralleled for the leaders of the Lycian troops at the time of the Trojan war according to Homer, with Luwian translations naming these heroes. This area of inquiry takes us to Kythira Island, which is a stone’s throw literally from Elafonisos Island and sunken Pavlopetri.
It is already clear that Pavlopetri had developed a trade tradition with the Minoans from before the Neopalatial period (1700 – 1425 B.C.). Now some suggest that Pavlopetri is a Pelasgian site. But the theory that Pavlopetri only came under Minoan influence or control in the second millennium BC is blown does not seem to jib with the Minoan language being at least partly Pelasgian? This is why I contend divers may soon make gripping discoveries there.