The archaeology of Europe’s drowned landscapes
This book describes the archaeology of all known submerged prehistoric remains and their regional context for the whole European continental shelf. They were inundated by the postglacial rise of global sea level. Over 2600 submerged Stone Age artefact sites, settlements, and anthropogenic indicators have been identified on the seabed of the European marginal seas, and their significance is analysed to show how the underwater remains influence our understanding of early exploitation of coastal and marine resources and early seafaring. The scope of this study is unique, since no attempt has been made previously to assemble and integrate submerged archaeological data on this geographical scale. It articulates fully the range of archaeological issues to which underwater prehistoric discoveries are relevant in Europe. The finds extend over a time range from the earliest human presence north of the Alps in the Early Palaeolithic nearly one million years ago up to the establishment of modern sea level about 5000 years at the end of the Neolithic. Some later material is presented where coastlines have continued to subside. The book begins with a succinct overview of the Ice Age cycles of sealevel change and the causes of submergence of prehistoric settlements and artefacts in the various geomorphologically contrasting European seas: from the Baltic, which behaves almost like a large estuary to the Atlantic margins with a huge tidal range and exposure to colossal storms, round to the Mediterranean and Black seas, where the postglacial rise of sea level is combined with local earthquakes and vertical earth movements. The reasons that prehistoric peoples lived on or crossed the exposed continental shelves differed in each case, and the regional environment, fauna, and flora influenced their culture, subsistence techniques, and their methods for exploiting the resources of the sea and coast. Submerged remains have been found on all types of coasts. The most extensive seabed archaeological deposits are on wide or undulating shelves, with relatively few on steep rocky coasts. A webbased catalogue of all recorded sites with details of the archaeology is publicly available. This provides a resource for future research. The main thrust of the book is contained in 19 richly illustrated chapters that describe the archaeology of submerged sites in each regional sea, nation by nation. Since both archaeology and oceanography continue seamlessly across national maritime jurisdictional boundaries, there are overarching reviews of each marine basin from coast to coast. A concluding section considers the universal issues of legal and regulatory regimes and interactions with offshore industries and cultural heritage laws.
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