Wednesday, July 30, 2014

World's largest solar boat on odyssey to find ancient inhabited site in Greece

Scientists on catamaran PlanetSolar will search for village built by Neothlithic Europeans and also survey Aegean Sea

PlanetSolar catamaran
The world's largest solar-powered boat, the PlanetSolar catamaran, passes the Corinth Canal in central Greece on its way to hunt for a Neolithic village. Photograph: Vasilis Psomas/EPA
The world's largest solar boat, the catamaran PlanetSolar, is to embark on a Greek mission to find one of the oldest sites inhabited by man in Europe, an organiser said on Monday.
Starting on 11 August, a team of Swiss and Greek scientists will seek a "prehistoric countryside" in the south-eastern Peloponnese peninsula, University of Geneva researcher Julien Beck told AFP. The month-long mission, jointly organised with the Swiss school of archaeology and the Greek culture ministry, will search around the Franchthi cave in the Argolic gulf, where early Europeans lived between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods.
The cave was eventually abandoned around 3,000 BC but scientists assume the inhabitants must have built a village nearby.
"This cave was inhabited continuously for around 35,000 years... and we have reason to believe that towards the end of the Neolithic era, the inhabitants moved to a neighbouring site that is now underwater," Beck said.
"If we could find this village, it would be among the oldest in Greece and Europe," he said.
PlanetSolar, built in Germany, is 31 metres (100 feet) long and is powered by over 500 square metres of solar panels.
In 2012, the catamaran became the first vessel to circumnavigate the globe purely on solar energy. It has an average speed of 7.5 knots, or 14 kilometres (8.6 miles) per hour.
Whilst in Greece it will also conduct geophysical research and assist underwater archaeologists in Aegean Sea surveys.
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