U.S. Water News Online
ATHENS, Greece -- Archaeologists excavating a sprawling
prehistoric fortress in southern Greece have discovered a secret
underground passage thought to have supplied the site with water in
times of danger.
Dated to the mid-13th century B.C., the stone passage passed under
the massive walls of the Mycenaean citadel of Midea and probably led
to a nearby water source, authorities said.
Excavation director Katie Demakopoulou said the find confirmed
that Midea, about 93 miles south of Athens, had a sophisticated water
supply system like those unearthed in the nearby citadels of Mycenae
"It is a very important discovery, which gave us great joy," she
said. The passage would allow the people of Midea safe access to
drinkable water even in times of enemy attack.
Only three such networks -- major engineering feats requiring
intensive labor -- from Mycenaean times have been found so far.
Excavations in late June and July at Midea revealed rock-cut steps
leading to the triangular passage, whose entrance was covered with a
large stone lintel. Up to three meters of its course are visible.
"It advances under the walls, which are up to five-and-a-half
meters thick, and probably led out of the citadel to a point where
there was either an underground spring or well, or where water was
brought from a distance through pipes," Demakopoulou said.
At the entrance to the five-foot-high passage, archaeologists
found quantities of broken clay water jars and cups.
"We need to shore up the walls to go ahead with the excavation,
and will dig outside the walls to see how far the passage goes,"
The six-acre site was girdled with a wall of huge stone blocks,
built around 1250 B.C. Excavations have also uncovered several
buildings -- some decorated with painted plaster walls -- pottery, a
clay figure of a goddess, seal-stones and an amethyst vase shaped
like a triton shell.
Controlling a strategic road in the northeastern Peloponnese,
Midea was first occupied in the later Neolithic period, in the 5th
millennium B.C. It flourished during Mycenaean times and was
destroyed by earthquake and fire at the end of the 13th century B.C.
-- after which the site diminished in size and significance. Traces
of habitation have also been located from the Archaic (7th and 6th
centuries B.C.), Roman and Byzantine periods.
Greek and Swedish archaeologists have systematically excavated
Midea since 1983.
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