Representing the operation of ancient reclamation works at Lake Copais in Greece

N. Mamassis, S. Moustakas, and N. Zarkadoulas, Representing the operation of ancient reclamation works at Lake Copais in Greece, Water History, doi:10.1007/s12685-015-0126-x, 2015.



Water has been playing a vital role in Greeks’ life during their long history. Ancient Greek societies were very active towards water management, having presented an impressive variety of hydraulic works. The main purpose of this paper is to represent the operation of one of the most ancients and extended hydraulic works. The drainage project of Lake Copais (is located in Central Greece) was developed and operated by Minyans, a powerful Mycenaean race. Minyans, partially diverted two large rivers which fed the lake. The water was conveyed towards labyrinthine natural sinkholes, which were formed in limestone terrain. Through sinkholes the water slowly discharged to the sea. This impressive ancient water management system of Copais has gained the attention of many scientists and has been extensively studied by archaeologists and engineers. Still important questions exist about the way that the hydrosystem worked. Trying to provide some reliable answers, we have attempted to study the Minyans’ interventions to hydrosystem, from a hydraulics engineers’ perspective. All the available archeological, hydrological and geological information of the area was used, to evaluate the operation of the hydrosystem. The main elements of the hydrosystem, are presented here and their purpose is examined. For this, (i) a water balance model was developed and (ii) the hydrosystem was simulated using synthetic time series of the hydrological processes. Several operational cases were examined in order to define critical parameters of the system, such as the Copais’ water level variation and the water accumulation at the sinkholes’ area. The analysis reveals some significant factors, which were combined with the archaeological findings, to lead us to some interesting conclusions for hydrosystem’s performance.

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Tagged under: Ancient science and technology