Archaeologists Map Underwater Mesolithic Stone Age Settlement

The underwater site in Hanö Bay.Arne Sjöström

Archeologists from Lund University in Sweden have mapped out a stone age site from 9,000 years ago. This one, however, is located underwater in Hanö Bay in the Baltic Sea.

The team has discovered some incredible artifacts since it was first discovered 7 years ago. They found eight fishing traps made of braided hazel rods, an indication of extensive fishing that suggests that the area had inhabitants for at least part of the year. There’s also a well-preserved pickaxe made out of elk antlers with an inscription whose meaning has unfortunately been lost in time.

According to the research published in Quaternary International, the area used to be a lagoon and the researchers were able to reconstruct what it looked like during the Mesolithic.

”If you want to fully understand how humans dispersed from Africa, and their way of life, we also have to find all their settlements. Quite a few of these are currently underwater, since the sea level is higher today than during the last glaciation. Humans have always preferred coastal sites,” said graduate student and lead author Anton Hansson in a statement.

”As geologists, we want to recreate this area and understand how it looked. Was it warm or cold? How did the environment change over time?”

According to the estimate, the region would have experienced mild temperatures at least during the summer, guaranteeing a good life for the Mesolithic inhabitants of the region. The rise of sea levels happened after the site was buried in sediment, which helped the site and its finding to be preserved until today.

The mapped sites are located about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the current shoreline and about 20 meters (65 feet) below sea level. They dug up to 3 meters (9 feet) into the seabed and performed several tests to establish what the actual underwater topography of the region is like.

”These sites have been known, but only through scattered finds. We now have the technology for more detailed interpretations of the landscape,” added Hansson.

This is the oldest coastal structure found in Northern Europe and it is possible that it’s not the only one.

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