Mesolithic landscape studied on the bottom of Baltic Sea

Underwater archaeologists studied remains of a Mesolithic hunting site found on the bottom of the Baltic Sea at a place where once a lagoon existed and was used as a fish-hunting area.

Wood found underwater (by Lund University)
Wood found underwater (by Lund University)

The site contains the oldest known stationary fish traps in northern Europe off the coast of southern Sweden. The trap consists of wooden fish traps that were places underwater. The researchers have drilled into the seabed and radiocarbon dated the core, as well as examined pollen and diatoms. They have also produced a bathymetrical map that reveals depth variations.

Wood on the bottom of the Baltic (by Lund University)
Wood on the bottom of the Baltic (by Lund University)

Among the artefacts found on the bottom of the Baltic Sea is a 9000 year-old pick axe made out of elk antlers. The pick axe was found in in the refuse layer, which is the garbage of the settlement. It has a crack inside the shaft-hole, which is why it was tossed in the trash. Several of the finds have been conserved and will soon go to a museum. But many of the finds at the site, such as the fish traps, are too large to be taken from the site. These discoveries indicate mass fishing and therefore a semi-permanent settlement existing during the Mesolithic Era in the vicinity of the site.

Pick axe made of elk antlers found underwater (by Lund University)
Pick axe made of elk antlers found underwater (by Lund University)
Pick axe made of elk antlers (by Arne Sjöström)
Pick axe made of elk antlers (by Arne Sjöström)

The researchers are looking for more detailed interpretations of the landscape through modern technology. Most of the coastal sites of the Mesolithic are now underwater due to sea level rise, about 10-12 metres since the time of the artefacts, but according to the researchers, these are crucial to understanding how humans dispersed from Africa, and how their way of life looked like.

Visualisation of bathymetric data showing ancient landscapes now underwater (by Arne Sjöström)
Visualisation of bathymetric data showing ancient landscapes now underwater (by Arne Sjöström)

(after Arne Sjöström, Lund University, EurekAlert, Heritage Daily & Past Horizons)

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