Eliki (Helike) was an ancient Greek city located near the Selinus River on the southern shore of the Gulf of Corinth and near the present city of Aeghion. In 373 B.C. an earthquake and a huge sea wave destroyed the city. The city ruins sank under the sea. The writings of historians Pausanias, Heridotus, Marcus Aurelius, Siculus and Homer in The Iliad refer to Eliki. The city was home to the Temple of Elikonian Poseidon and a center for worship of Poseidon, the ancient god of the sea. A huge bronze statue of Poseidon was left standing after the earthquake submerged the city and all its people. In the Iliad, Poseidon is referred to as “Lord of Helike”. Pausanias writes of Helike, who was the daughter of Selinos of Aegialia (later called Achaia). She married Ion, son of the king of Athens, who named a city after her. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote that before the earthquake, Eliki held "first place among the cities of Achaia.". In the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.) he writes "...and how many cities are entirely dead, so to speak, Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and others innumerable.". Archaeologists have worked for a long time in an effort to find the lost city of Eliki. Recently, researchers have discovered objects that may be from the ancient Greek city of Helike. Dora Katsonopoulou and Steven Soter made the discoveries. They reported their findings at a recent meeting in Greece. Miss Katsonopoulou is president of the Ancient Helike Society in the Greek city of Aigion. Mister Soter works for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The scientists found the objects after digging near Aeghion 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.
Miss Katsonopoulou and Mister 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 in the future. 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. For additional information on the history of Eliki and the current efforts to discover the ruins of the ancient Eliki please click on the following link.
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