UNDERWATER archaeology isn't a subject I'd given much thought to before Sunday evening, when a highly absorbing documentary on BBC2 took us back a few thousand years.

The subject was the ancient Greek city of Pavlopetri, which disappeared beneath the waters of the Aegean and remained undetected until 1967.

An international team led by underwater archaeologist Dr Jon Henderson donned their wetsuits and explored the drowned site; where you and I would have struggled to see anything other than rocks and sand, they were able to trace the outlines of buildings.

Numerous shards of ancient pottery were retrieved, bagged and photographed, and gradually a detailed picture was built up of this once-thriving trading ports.

The fascination in this hour-long documentary lay in the way that the pottery and the building foundations, coupled with clues from other Bronze Age town plans, were used to shed light on how the inhabitants lived, worked and died.

Here and there, sombre little details seeped out, such as the fact that children were often buried, in tiny graves, on the household premises.

At night-time, a robotic survey torpedo swept the entire site, its twin cameras taking photographs three times per second. This allowed a stone-by-stone 3D image of the drowned city to be etched; Dr Henderson, barely able to contain his enthusiasm, said the robotic device would change underwater archaeology forever.

A visual-effects team digested all the information and took series of photographs to devise a CGI sequence which showed how Pavlopetri would have looked at its peak, at around 1600 BC, long before the first of three crippling earthquakes, the first of which is thought to have occurred around 1000 BC.

This was submerged history, brought back to life.