The remains of a Stone Age road have been discovered at the submerged Neolithic site of Soline, which sits off the coast of a Croatian island called Korčula. According to researchers, the ancient passageway once linked the island to a settlement that sat on an artificial landmass but now lies some 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) beneath the Adriatic Sea in the Mediterranean.
Archaeologists first identified the remains of Soline by examining satellite imagery of the waters around Korčula in 2021. After noticing an unusual feature on the seabed, researchers grabbed their snorkels and flippers and went in for a closer look.
While exploring, they came across the walls of an ancient settlement that appeared to be connected to the main island by a narrow strip of land. Now underwater, the site is believed to have been built by the Neolithic Hvar culture which once occupied the eastern Adriatic.
And while organic artifacts from Soline have been carbon dated to around 4,900 years ago, the researchers say the newly discovered road is probably several millennia older. Made of carefully stacked stone slabs and measuring some 4 meters wide (13 feet), the road was found buried beneath layers of mud on the seafloor.
According to a statement released by the University of Zadar, the ancient road once connected Soline to Korčula and may have been in use as early as 7,000 years ago. Like the rest of the settlement, the paved walkway has survived for millennia thanks to the fact that the Croatian coast is dotted with islands that protect the region from large waves.
While announcing the discovery of the Neolithic road, researchers also revealed details of their ongoing survey around Gradina Bay on the opposite side of Korčula. Here, the team has recently identified a second submerged settlement at a similar depth to Soline, which appears almost identical to the site discovered two years ago.
Initial excavations of these underwater ruins have returned numerous Stone Age artifacts, including flint blades, stone axes, and fragments of millstones. Like those found at Soline, these recently discovered items appear to be associated with the Hvar culture.