Rapticaputo1 B Helly2

1 University of Ferrara, Department of Earth Sciences, via Saragat 1, I-44100 Ferrara, Italy

(e-mail: [email protected])

2Institut Fernand-Courby (UMR 5649 du CNRS), Maison de I'Orient, 7 rue Raulin, F-69007 Lyon, France (e-mail: [email protected])

Abstract: The development of past civilizations and the foundation of towns have always been strictly linked to the availability of water. In this paper, we analyse more than 2000 years of evolution of Yperia Krini spring in Thessaly (Greece), by investigating possible variations in terms of water discharge. In particular, the integrated analysis of geological, hydrological, hydrogeological and historical data relative to the spring, called by Sophocles a 'gift of God and source of life', allowed us to understand the role played by both climatic variations and anthropogenic activities on the behaviour and the characteristics of the local underground water resources within the Thessalian plain.

The Yperia Krini spring is located in the middle of the town of Velestino (southern Thessaly, Greece), at an altitude of 105 m; it generates a small lake with an area of about 0.15-0.2 hectares (Fig. 1). The lake is bounded all around by a wall, while some artificial channels control the water outflow. The modern town of Velestino, which is built along the northeastern slope of Mount Malouka, roughly corresponds to the well known archaeological site of Pherae. The ancient city of Pherae commanded a fertile district near the southern verge of the Plain of Pelasgiotis, with important routes and easy access to the sea. Human settlement in this sector is know from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. As a Greek city, Pherae took a prominent place in mythology as the home of Admetus. In historic times, Pherae was one of the most important Thessalian towns, flourishing especially in the Classic and Hellenistic periods (Intzesiloglou 1994).

In the history of Pherae, the spring called Yperia Krini has always been mentioned as the representative monument of the old town as it is for the modern one. It is evident that the abundant water of the spring has around the interest of the inhabitants, travellers and the poets of antiquity. According to a citation of Sophocles (825 N; see Pearson 1917), the Yperia fountain is a 'gift of God and a source of life' ('Yperia Krini' nama theofilestaton). Indeed, there is no doubt that the Ancients clearly acknowledged that the Yperia spring was a fundamental element of the environment they lived in and that the agricultural richness of the region was a direct consequence.

Although the quality of life of the town is no longer so closely related to the amount of water discharge occurring at the spring, any negative variation had always worried local people. Indeed, since 1989, the spring has suffered a significant loss in water discharge, which fell from 200 l/s to only 30 l/s. In order to understand the causes of this phenomenon and to define the working conditions of the spring, a specific hydrogeological study was carried out. Following the geological principle that 'the present is the key of the past', we tentatively investigated possible quantitative variations that have occurred at the spring over time.

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