The world's largest solar-powered boat is joining archaeologists in an ambitious underwater survey in southern Greece, to seek traces of what could be one of the oldest human settlements in Europe.

The Swiss-Greek mission starts work next week and hopes to shed new light on how the first farming communities spread through the continent.

It will investigate a major prehistoric site in a bay called Kiladha — Greek for valley. The area was once dry land and archaeologists operating off the MS Turanor PlanetSolar hope it may contain sunken remains of buildings dating to Neolithic times, about 9,000 years ago.

Mission leader Julien Beck, from the University of Geneva, said Tuesday the team picked Kiladha Bay because it is near Greece's oldest Neolithic site, the Franchthi Cave.