Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Ancient Site

Helike Archaeological Site

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Helike Archaeological Site

About the site

Corridor: Via Adriatica
Country: Greece, Achaia
Type: Ancient Site
Epoch: Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity
World Heritage:
AntiquityAntiquityAncient Site

In 2001, archaeologists discovered the long-lost site of Helike, a Classical Greek city buried in an alluvial plain on the southwest shore of the Gulf of Corinth. According to ancient sources and modern field research, an earthquake in 373 BC destroyed and submerged Helike in the waters of a coastal lagoon, which gradually silted over. Because the site was never salvaged or looted, it is unusually well preserved.
Excavators also found an Early Bronze Age site nearby, containing artifacts from about 2500–2300 B.C. in a remarkable state of preservation. This little-explored site contains the oldest organized coastal settlement ever found in the state of Achaia. Initial trial trenches yielded numerous complete pottery vessels, together with gold and silver ornaments, suggesting that the buildings may belong to a royal megaron.
In Roman times, a road ran through Helike connecting the cities of Patras and Corinth. Today, the Greek National Railway plans to reduce travel time between the two cities by straightening existing train tracks through the alluvial plain and running a rail line through the middle of the Helike excavations. Scheduled for construction in 2005–2006, the planned railway project will destroy or render inaccessible many unexcavated areas of the ancient city of Helike. It is hoped that continued site listing will foster cooperation between site supporters and government officials in order to protect this important and fragile archaeological area.

World Monuments Fund