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Underwater Pompeii off the coast of Delos

- by Andy Cornish

A team of historians and scientific investigators have discovered the ruins of an ancient settlement a few miles off the coast of Delos.

Despite being a tiny lump of rock, Delos has long been one of the most important Greek islands for archaeological research. Excavations are frequent and often unearth historically important material. It can be found close to the popular tourist destination of Mykonos which also has administrative control over the island.

The indigenous people (Dellians) were ousted numerous times throughout history and finely gave up and left for good in the 6th Century AD. However, Delos remains an important site for Greek mythology as well as archaeology. It is said that Zeus' son Apollo was born on the island, and remains the only place on earth where one isn't allowed to give birth or die! Anyone showing signs of doing either is hastily transported to another island.

Since the 1990s, Archaeological work has been coordinated by the French School based in Athens. Many Delos artefacts can be found at the Archaeological Museum of Delos and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

This latest discovery centres on an area of the Aegean which is around 6ft deep and lies close to the north-eastern coastline of the island. Along with numerous stone walls, intricate terracotta pots and the remains of a rudimentary kiln are also being examined. Archaeologists from the National Hellenic Research Foundation and the Ephorate of Undersea Archaeology have suggested that a pottery workshop and possibly a commercial centre for "crafting activities" lies beneath the waves.

According to the Greek Ministry of Culture, there are strong similarities in design and construction with potteries in Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy. Scientists are already pouring over the new data which is expected to shed new light into Delos' fascinating past.