Searching for ancient Helike

Excavation and maintenance work in progress at the dye works complex (3rd c. A.D.) in Helike
Since 1993 the Department of Geology of the University of Patras has participated in the search for the discovery of Helike, the ancient capital of Achaea which was destroyed by a violent earthquake and tsunami in 373 BC during one of the most impressive catastrophes that occurred in the ancient world.
The multidisciplinary Helike Project started in 1988, at the initiative and under the direction of archaeologist Dora Katsonopoulou and geoarchaeologist Steven Soter of Cornell University.
The Helike Project offers to University students the opportunity to practice in field work and excavation methodology at an international level. The rich findings from the excavations are the subjects of undergraduate and graduate work and diplomas awarded to archaeologists and geologists working with the Project by the Department of Geology of the University of Patras and other foreign Universities.
The most significant discoveries of the Helike Project so far can be summarized as follows: (i) The Early Helladic settlement (3rd millennium BC), a unique pro-to-urban coastal site, found in the center of the Helike area preserving its contents intact, buried 3-5.5 m below surface. (ii) The Early Hellenistic settlement (late 4th-2nd c. BC), in the western part of the Helike area, developed only a few decades after the 373 BC earthquake and including a well-preserved rare building complex of dye-works. (iii) Mycenaean (13th-12th c. BC) and Geometric remains (late 9th-early 7th c. BC) in the eastern Helike area near the Kerynites river, associated with the Homeric and Geometric Helike, the metropolis of Sybaris founded in the West around 730 BC. (iv) The impressive 1300 m central Roman Road discovered in the Helike plain (most probably the root travelled by Pausanias in the 2nd c. AD), the first technical work of such scale found in the northern Peloponnese. (v) An ancient lagoon located in the center of the Helike plain, where Classical remains most probably associated with the 373 BC catastrophic phenomenon, were found buried. (vi) Remains of several buildings and cemeteries of Roman Helike, uncovered in an extensive area between the Selinous and Kerynites rivers.
D. Katsonopoulou, Archaeologist and Prof. N. Kontopoulos, Dept. Geology