Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Underwater Archaeology

"Archaeologists in the UK are exploring a vast expanse of sea floor between southeastern England and the Netherlands that, between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, was a rich landscape inhabited by Mesolithic hunters and gatherers."

Oh! Oh! Oh! The first thing this makes me think of is that Iron Age Europe, 2000 years ago, had a lower, and in some places marshier, coastline than today. I recall reading that Julius Caesar's description of northern Belgae (the Low Countries) validated the beliefs of climatologists who suspected that seas began to rise millennia ago, and were still rising in Caesar's day.

The opening quote, btw, is from an August 5 article by Bradley T. Lepper titled "Underwater Archaeology a new field of exploration." The July 10 issue of Nature (Vol 454) has an article but sadly, you have to pay to see it online. However, if you google Laura Spinney (the author) and Archaeology, you may find a non-commercial copy somewhere. Like here.

The article is about Doggerland, a silly name for the marshy plain that once connected Britain with mainland Europe. Since about 8,0000 years ago, that blasted plain is now under the North Sea--hence the archaeology tie-in. Scientists have not only found artefacts there, but they are able to map the area and spot ancient rivers.

Skipping around, here's a site on the mapping from the University of Birmingham. That's where this picture with the river channel is from.

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