A new archaeological expedition aims to uncover evidence to gain more insight into Britain’s Neolithic peoples, who inhabited the area of the North Sea over 7,500 years ago. The project is especially ambitious, as the dig site has been submerged beneath the sea since that time.
Being called the ‘British Atlantis’ by some, the area called Doggerland, now covered by the North Sea, originally connected Great Britain to the European mainland, but following the end of the last ice age, it became submerged as global sea levels rose. Previous evidence of a Neolithic culture living there has been uncovered in recent years, and points toward
The expedition, being funded by the European Union’s European Research Council, plans to use a combination of scanning equipment to search for possible structures, while bore holes will be made to extract seabed samples for evidence of agriculture, artifacts, and hopefully DNA.
It is hoped that the findings from this expedition will revolutionize the archaeological community’s understanding of the spread of culture and agriculture throughout Europe, and how the two developments affected one another.
Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, of the University of Bradford, explains: "…this project will access new data at a scale never previously attempted. Novel mapping, DNA extraction and computer modelling representing people, animals and even individual plants will generate a four-dimensional model of how Doggerland was colonized and eventually lost to the sea.
“A dramatic, and previously lost, period of human prehistory will begin to emerge from the seismic traces, fragments of DNA and snippets of computer code that will form the primary data of this innovative archaeological project.”
The massive and very ancient monolith recently found off the coast of Sicily, the Gobekli Tepe site and many others suggest that Neolithic culture went far beyond the simple hunter-gatherer stage. With the end of the ice age, sea levels rose dramatically, submerging everything that was on coastlines. As is true now, most large centers would have been close to the sea in order to facilitate trade. There are thousands of submerged coastlines around the world, and almost none of them have been examined for evidence of habitation.