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Sunken Antiquity: Ancient Sites Flooded By Rising Sea Levels

More lost lands....


Britain's drowned landscapes

New underwater technology to reveal an age when the UK was linked to Europe by plains and forests

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday September 21, 2003
The Observer

Herds of reindeer and horses migrated across its plains, huge forests covered much of the countryside and men and women made their homes by rivers and lakes.
Then came the deluge, and this ancient Arcadia - which stretched across the North Sea, and covered the Channel - was inundated. All signs of human and animal activity were covered by several hundred feet of water. Only the occasional stone tool, bone harpoon and mammoth tusk, trawled from the sea bed by fishing boats, has provided reminders of this lost world's existence.

But the drowned lands of the North Sea and Channel may soon be revealed by British scientists using a revolutionary underwater scanning technique that can create sea-bed maps and images as accurate and detailed as those made of dry land. In the process, the idea of Britain as an island kingdom will be challenged by researchers.

'For the first time, we have the technology to map the North Sea and Channel sea beds in unsurpassed detail,' said Dr David Miles, chief archaeologist of English Heritage. 'That offers us a unique chance to open up our history. There could be dozens of perfectly preserved sites down there.'..............

It goes on about a lost river, roughly done the centre of the channel, to which the Rhine, Thames and Seine were originally just tributaries.

I don't know about finding anything cyclopean under there, but even finding the lost villages would be great.
If you have a look at a map of the earth with reference to ocean depth you will notice that all around the UK there is what appears to be a relatively shallow plateau which extends from Europe to out well past the west coast of Ireland. It doesn't take a big stretch of the immagination to realise that if the ocean is in a constant state of flux, rising and falling that there would have been areas of land that could have been connected to Europe.
This was probably around 15000 yrs ago about the time of the last ice age. It follows that there would have been settlements on this now submersed land.
Hows that for armchair ancient history?
Never mind Estuary English, What About Estuary European?

Ever since I heard about them dredging up hunting impliments and other human artifacts from the old 'Dogger Bank' fishing grounds in the North Sea, when I were but a lad, I've been interested in the ancient, sunken hunting grounds that lie between England and the Continent.

Once, the Thames and the Rhine were tributaries in one vast Über Delta region. Perhaps, you could even have travelled from the Scillies to Siberia, without getting your feet wet!

This sounds like it could be really interesting research and I'm looking forward to more revelations! :)
In the Med rather than the North Sea, but there's growing interest in the sunken lands school of archeology.

(and the Observer seems to have had a few of these articles recently, they'll soon have a correspondent with the byline 'Our Man from Atlantis'.)


For Atlantis, turn right at Cyprus

Helena Smith in Athens
Sunday September 28, 2003
The Observer

Since time immemorial Cyprus has thrived by association with Aphrodite - the love goddess who emerged from its silky waves. The Mediterranean island may well benefit from its strategic locale again; although this time through the undoing of a myth that thanks to the playful mind of Plato is also one of the world's greatest mysteries: Atlantis.

After nearly a decade of rummaging through libraries, studying maps, reading ancient works and pouring over oceanographic data, an American researcher believes he has discovered the site of the lost civilisation on the sea floor between Cyprus and Syria, not far from Greece and Egypt, from where the legend of Atlantis originated.

'This is an area that has not been charted before,' Robert Sarmast told The Observer from his Los Angeles office. 'The submerged land mass we have located off Cyprus's coast matches Plato's famed description of Atlantis nearly perfectly.'

The Athenian philosopher described the mythological empire - 'sunk under the water after an earthquake' - in two of his famous dialogues, Timaeus and Critias .

Atlantis, he said, was a collection of islands, one of them huge. Its land was 'the best in the world... able, in those days, to support a vast army' before a huge tidal wave flooded it around 10,000BC.

The quest for the lost land is as undying as the myth itself. In the past decade, Atlantis has been 'sighted' at the top of volcanos and the bottom of seas; off the coast of Bolivia, Turkey, Antarctica and India.

But Sarmast, who made colleagues working on the project sign secrecy pledges, goes one step further than other Atlantologists in claiming to have vindicated Plato's narrative as not just a philosopher's allegory.

The researcher, author of Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus to be published in Britain next month, claims he has pinpointed the fabled island with 'unprecedented accuracy'.

Using sonar technology provided by an oil company, he mapped the seabed to ascertain what he says is the shape of the island. The watery kingdom has been 'brought alive' in 3D bathymetric maps and models that depict a stretch of sunken land off Cyprus.

If Plato is to be believed, there are colossal buildings, bridges, canals, temples and artefacts to be found in these waters.

'The Titanic was two miles beneath the sea surface, this is less than one mile down,' said Sarmast. 'You don't need to find that much to prove the case and in the Mediterranean there's little sedimentation. If they're there it would be fairly easy to find the remains of an entire city.'
There is ample evidence for drowned cities, even civilizations, around the world. While I'm not going to cite references here, many sources have found such places and only minor searching on the topic reveals much information. Even folklore is confirmed as a submarine investigation off the coast of India finds a large array of anthropogenic structures.

Many submarine sites around the world are known to contain large human artifacts. As previously mentioned, those near India are apparently quite extensive. Recently too, a complex of structures was found off the coast of Cuba. Additional finds of which I am aware exist near France and Japan.

The findings are not altogether surprising. Especially so, given the fact that sea level increased significantly 10,000 to 14,000 years ago. Of course, the increase was caused by the melting of continent-sized masses of ice, at the beginning the current interglacial period.

It is also well-known that humans are relatively old with origins around 600,000 years ago. Usually, ancient settlements are found near fresh water or ocean coasts because of the importance of that resource. Even today, the overwhelming number of people are found around coastal regions. Therefore it stands to reason that civilizations clustered around the oceans more 14,000 years ago were deluged and submerged. Accordingly, most records of them vanished under the waves. Interestingly, ancient flood myths are common throughout the world however.
There are numerous examples of settlements lost to the sea off the coast of East Yorkshire, including one fairly important mediaeval port (Ravenser Odd). Granted, all of these losses were due to coastal erosion, but it does prove that lost lands etc does not have to be viewed as simply myth.

The question really, is, was mankind sufficiently evolved enough to build civilisations during (or even before) the last Ice Age?

I must nail my colours to the mast here. I honestly think it is more than likely, and that the flood myths from around the world all point to a level of human development far above that which was hitherto thought possible.
BBC News Online: Tsunami throws up India relics
11 February, 2005
By Soutik Biswas BBC News, Delhi

The deadly tsunami could have uncovered the remains of an ancient port city off the coast in southern India.

Archaeologists say they have discovered some stone remains from the coast close to India's famous beachfront Mahabalipuram temple in Tamil Nadu state following the 26 December tsunami.

They believe that the "structures" could be the remains of an ancient and once-flourishing port city in the area housing the famous 1200-year-old rock-hewn temple.

Three pieces of remains, which include a granite lion, were found buried in the sand after the coastline receded in the area after the tsunami struck.

Undersea remains

"They could be part of the small seaport city which existed here before water engulfed them. They could be part of a temple or a building. We are investigating," says T Sathiamoorthy of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Archaeologists say that the stone remains date back to 7th Century AD and are nearly 6ft tall.

They have elaborate engravings of the kind that are found in the Mahabalipuram temple.

The temple, which is a World Heritage site, represents some of the earliest-known examples of Dravidian architecture dating back to 7th Century AD.

The monument also has gigantic open air reliefs hewn out from granite.

The tsunami waves have also helped the archaeologists in desilting one such relief which had been covered with sand for ages.

A half-completed rock relief of an elephant got "naturally desilted" by the ferocious waves and is now drawing large crowds at this popular tourist destination.

For the past three years, archaeologists working with divers from India and England have found the remnants of the ancient port.

Archaeologists say they had done underwater surveys 1 km into the sea from the temple and found some undersea remains.

Lost world warning from North Sea
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education

Archaeologists are uncovering a huge prehistoric "lost country" hidden below the North Sea.

This lost landscape, where hunter-gatherer communities once lived, was swallowed by rising water levels at the end of the last ice age.

University of Birmingham researchers are heralding "stunning" findings as they map the "best-preserved prehistoric landscape in Europe".

This large plain disappeared below the water more than 8,000 years ago.

The Birmingham researchers have been using oil exploration technology to build a map of the once-inhabited area that now lies below the North Sea - stretching from the east coast of Britain up to the Shetland Islands and across to Scandinavia.


"It's like finding another country," says Professor Vince Gaffney, chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics.

It also serves as a warning for the scale of impact that climate change can cause, he says.

Human communities would have lost their homelands as the rising water began to encroach upon the wide, low-lying plains.

"At times this change would have been insidious and slow - but at times, it could have been terrifyingly fast. It would have been very traumatic for these people," he says.

"It would be a mistake to think that these people were unsophisticated or without culture... they would have had names for the rivers and hills and spiritual associations - it would have been a catastrophic loss," says Professor Gaffney.

As the temperature rose and glaciers retreated and water levels rose, the inhabitants would have been pushed off their hunting grounds and forced towards higher land - including to what is now modern-day Britain.

"In 10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were living on the land in the middle of the North Sea. By 6,000 BC, Britain was an island. The area we have mapped was wiped out in the space of 4,000 years," explains Professor Gaffney.

So far, the team has examined a 23,000-sq-km area of the sea bed - mapping out coastlines, rivers, hills, sandbanks and salt marshes as they would have appeared about 12,000 years ago.

And once the physical features have been established, Professor Gaffney says it will be possible to narrow the search for sites that could yield more evidence of how these prehistoric people lived.

These inhabitants would have lived in family groups in huts and hunted animals such as deer.

The mapping of this landscape could also raise questions about its preservation, says Professor Gaffney - and how it can be protected from activities such as pipe-laying and the building of wind farms.


It's on telly tonight, C4, 2100:
Britain's drowned world.
A Time Team Special.

Ten thousand years ago, before the melting ice from the end of the last Ice Age led to a huge rise in sea levels, the map of Britain looked very different to what it is today. In what is now the North Sea and the English Channel, there was an area of land the size of England itself – a great plain that stretched across from the east of Britain to what is now Denmark, northern Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. Meandering through it, the rivers Rhine, Thames and Seine and their various tributaries converged into an immense estuary that discharged into the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

As temperatures rose and the ice melted, the land joining Britain to the continent became home to great grasslands, forests, marshes and lakes. It was populated by a wide variety of animals, birds, fish – and humans. For a time 'Doggerland', as it has been dubbed, possessed rich natural resources that would have drawn people northwards from the European mainland. For a couple of thousand years, perhaps, before it began to be swamped by meltwaters from the end of the Ice Age, it would have been a mini-paradise for the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who dwelt there.

Then, in a relatively short period of time – fast enough for its effects to have been observed by the people living there – a very rapid rise in sea levels transformed the landscape utterly. The world those Mesolithic hunter-gatherers knew quite literally disappeared beneath the waves. By about 6,000 years ago, it had gone entirely. Britain was no longer part of Europe but an island, and its development began to diverge from that of the continent from which its latest wave of human occupants had arrived.

In this Time Team Special, Tony Robinson and the Team call upon the leading experts in the field to piece together the new discoveries and research that have rewritten the books on the ancient human occupation of Britain in recent years. It is a fascinating tale of the drowned world that once was part of Britain.
Cool information regarding the landmass before the end of the last Ice Age.

Even more interesting if you consider the latest news regarding a possible comet/meteor strike circa 13,000 years ago. If it turns out to be correct, a large portion of the northern hemisphere was decimated.


following a somewhat logical path of cause and consequence, if these imapacts really occurred and wiped out/melted a large number of glaciers, perhaps this could have led to mass flooding,tsunamis etc. = Flood myths?

We live in interesting times. ;) [/url]
Fight on to save Stone Age Atlantis
By Eleanor Williams
BBC News, Hampshire

A race against time is under way to try to save a Stone Age settlement found buried at the bottom of the sea in the Solent.

Eight thousand years ago the area would have been dry land, a valley and woodland criss-crossed by rivers.

A swamped prehistoric forest was identified off the northern Isle of Wight coast in the 1980s, but Bouldnor Cliff's buried Stone Age village was only found - by chance - a few years ago.

Divers taking part in a routine survey spotted a lobster cleaning out its burrow on the seabed and to their surprise the animal was throwing out dozens of pieces of worked flint.

Maritime archaeologists from the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology have carried out a number of underwater excavations at the 8,000-year-old site.

For the first time they are bringing up sections of the Mesolithic village from the seabed and going through the sediments.

But they have to work fast, as the site is literally being washed away by tidal currents, which eat away at the submerged cliff at a rate of 12in (30cm) a year.

Garry Momber, director of the charity - which is supported by English Heritage - said the project is unique and helps to shed light on a time in British history which very little is known about.

He said: "This is the only site of its kind in Britain and is extremely important to our understanding of our Stone Age ancestors from the lesser-known Mesolithic period.

"It reveals a time before the English Channel existed when Europe and Britain were linked.

"The people who lived on this site could have walked over to Calais without too much trouble."

The Isle of Wight was then the highest point of a chalk ridge stretching out along the south coast with valleys on either sides.

After the ice cap - which had covered most of northern Europe - melted, the sea levels started to rise and the settlement was swamped and buried under the sea.

In the process, silt formed on top and preserved both tools, such as flint knives and scrapers, as well as charcoal, worked pieces of wood, nuts and other organic material, which would have disappeared on land.

"It's called the Stone Age because, on land, we find stones from this period but under water a whole lot more survives," Mr Momber said.

"I believe these people were far more sophisticated than we give them credit for."

Among the discoveries are wooden poles and structures believed to have been used to build houses and canoes.

"The reason so little is known about the lives of the Mesolithic people, is because most of the sites where they settled are now on the seabed," Mr Momber added.

"The whole of the North Sea could be covered in sites like this one.

"If we want to understand the Mesolithic people - how they went from hunter-gatherers to farming - we need to look under the water."

In 2004, the team carried out another excavation on a less intact site 300yds (275m) away.

This showed signs of having been by a river and Mr Momber believes the two sites were linked.

He said it was likely the larger one was where the people lived and the other where they went to catch fish.

However, there is still a lot more work to be done until it is known what Bouldnor Cliff looked like and how the site was used.

To put it in perspective, Mr Momber compared the find to one of the more "modern" historic finds in the Solent.

"The Mary Rose is only about 500 years old - this was well before that, well before the pyramids, which are 3,000 years old and way before Stonehenge was built, which was only 5,000 years ago," he said.

Mr Momber added they hoped to secure more funding so they could continue their work before the artefacts were lost forever, as the Bouldnor Cliff area was being washed away fast.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hamp ... 928293.stm
I didn't realize that the melting of the Ice Age glaciers continued to raise sea levels quite so late as 6,000 BC, at least not so drastically as to innundate settled villages. When did this settle down?
OldTimeRadio said:
I didn't realize that the melting of the Ice Age glaciers continued to raise sea levels quite so late as 6,000 BC, at least not so drastically as to innundate settled villages. When did this settle down?
There were three major periods of sea-level rise, IIRC. (In fact, I think this is discussed in detail earlier in this thread.)

6-7000 years ago was the 'last' one, although in fact the process still continues to this day, albeit more slowly. (And that seems to be increasing again, as global warming kicks in... :shock: )
Britain’s Atlantis under the North Sea
Jonathan Leake and Joanna Carpenter

SCIENTISTS studying the North Sea have found the remnants of a lost landscape, complete with human settlements, under up to 450ft of water.

They have mapped lakes, hills, salt marshes, coastlines and rivers, all now covered in water and silt but which were once the homes and hunting grounds of early modern humans.

It was inundated more than 5,000 years ago as the ice melted after the last ice age, raising sea levels at a rate that some scientists say will now happen again because of climate change.

“What is emerging from our research is a prehistoric landscape larger than Britain itself,” said Professor Vince Gaffney of the Institute of Archeology and Antiquity at Birmingham University, who led the research.

He will reveal details of his findings at the British Association’s Festival of Science in York next week. He will describe how his mapping project has found the remains of a great lake, known as the Outer Silver Pit, lying 100 miles east of what is now the mouth of the River Humber in Yorkshire. The lake drained what were then the greatest rivers in northern Europe, including the precursors of the Ouse, the Tweed and the Elbe.

Just to the east of the lake lay the rolling Dogger Hills - now submerged but which have become the foundations for the notorious Dogger Bank sandbank. They also inspired the archeologists’ name for the lost landscape: Doggerland.

Such features emerged from seismic data collected by oil companies hunting reserves of oil and gas in the North Sea.

Gaffney and his colleagues realised that although the surveys had been designed to study rock strata hundreds or thousands of feet below the seabed, the same data could be used to look at the upper layers too.

“The coasts, rivers, marshes and hills we found were, for thousands of years, parts of a landscape that would have been familiar to hundreds of thousands of people and countless species of animals,” said Gaffney. “Now it is all gone.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 368630.ece
It was inundated more than 5,000 years ago as the ice melted after the last ice age, raising sea levels at a rate that some scientists say will now happen again because of climate change.

But isn't 3,000 BC (even 3,000 BC-plus) rather late for this sort of major inundation?
OldTimeRadio said:
It was inundated more than 5,000 years ago as the ice melted after the last ice age, raising sea levels at a rate that some scientists say will now happen again because of climate change.

But isn't 3,000 BC (even 3,000 BC-plus) rather late for this sort of major inundation?
'Rather late' by which way of thinking? Is there some law of nature that says that drastic events have to happen long, long ago and far, far away?

Although, by and large, this particular 'drastic event' was relatively gradual for the most part, even if its effects were noticeable within human time scales.
Well, son, my father told me that when he was a boy, that bay there used to be good grazing land...

There would have been exceptions, though. Low-lying flat lands could flood rapidly with small sea-level rises, and if attempts had been made to protect the land with sea walls, then the floods could be catastrophic when the sea walls were finally overwhelmed.

Drastic events like this no doubt gave rise to the stories of Lyonesse, the City of Ys, and, of course, Atlantis.

There are submerged forests and human constructions all around the coasts of southern Britain, and the country continues to sink below the sea.
(Scotland, however, is currently beating the sea level rise as the land itself, now freed from the great weight of ice-age glaciers, rebounds upwards.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-glacial_rebound )

There's serious talk now of building a new Thames barrage, which might save London from flooding.... for the next century or so.

If you live far from the sea in the American midwest, such matters may not loom large in your thinking ;) , but for coast dwellers such as myself these are basic facts of life. As I've said before, round here sea-levels continue to rise, and maybe in a millenium or two there will be stories about the lost cities of London, Amsterdam, and elsewhere....
rynner said:
'Rather late' by which way of thinking? Is there some law of nature that says that drastic events have to happen long, long ago and far, far away?

What I meant is that most of the previous datings I've seen for European inundations of this sort have been circa 8,000 - 10,000 BC. The most recent I'd ever seen was 6,000 BC.

3,000 BC seemed drastically more recent.

I guess I'm a little date-touchy this week. I saw a news story the other day which referred to 3,000 BC as "the old Paleolithic"!
Here's a long account of the loss of a major English city to the sea in relatively recent historical times:

Britain's Atlantis: the search for our lost capital

In medieval times, Dunwich was a thriving rival to London. Then it was swallowed by the sea. Now, thanks to technological advances, the ancient settlement may soon be visible once more
By Paul Vallely
Published: 22 January 2008

Around midnight, at certain tides, church bells can still be heard tolling from the lost city of Dunwich. Or so local legend has it. The sound comes from beneath the waves of the North Sea, for Dunwich – one of England's most prosperous medieval centres, a place some consider a rival to 14th-century London – has been sunk beneath the waters for 500 years and more.

Visit Dunwich today and you will encounter a quiet Suffolk coastal village with steeply sloping shingle beaches. From time to time the waves move the pebbles to expose the great black sea defences which lie amid the stones like great beached whales, designed to slow the longshore drift of the beach into the oblivion to which the once great city has been consigned. Today the real Dunwich lies out there beneath the cold grey waters, 50 feet down and perhaps a mile out.

This British Atlantis – with its eight churches, five houses of religious orders, three chapels and two hospitals – is now about to be exposed to human gaze for the first time since the first of a series of great storms and sea surges hit the East Anglian coast in 1286 and began the process of coastal erosion which led to the city's disappearance. For the past 30 years one man, Stuart Bacon, a marine archaeologist and director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies, has dedicated himself to discovering what lies beneath the waves. He has made more than 1,000 dives on the medieval site since 1971 but with limited success. High silt levels in the water mean that visibility is limited to just a few centimetres.

"You can't see," he says. "The water is black because of the sediment in suspension. On very rare occasions visibility can be one to two metres but more usually it is one or two centimetres. You can't read your watch with a lamp on some occasions."

He has explored by touch, with the aid of a map drawn in 1587, which has proved remarkably accurate. But, from May, Mr Bacon will be teaming up with Professor David Sear, of the University of Southampton, and they will bring to bear the latest underwater acoustic imaging technology to reveal the secrets of the past.

It will be the realisation of a life-long dream for Mr Bacon. Born in nearby Aldeburgh he was first taken to Dunwich by his parents as a boy in about 1947. It had not been long since the last of Dunwich's ancient churches, All Saints, toppled from the clifftop to the beach 40 feet below. "We sat on the ruins on the beach for picnics," he recalled. "As a boy I was full of questions about the place that no one seemed able to answer. So when I qualified as a diver I decide to make Dunwich my special study."

All Saints had been abandoned by its parishioners in the 1750s, though burials continued in the churchyard until the 1820s. But the cliff edge had reached the church in 1904 and the tower by 1922. It was in 1971 that Mr Bacon found the remains of the church in the water. "When a church goes over the cliff it doesn't go intact," he says. "It gets ruined on the cliff top and then falls down on to the beach in a line of stones. All Saints was 147 feet long. That's an awful lot of masonry, tons of material. It's not easily washed away."

Two years later, in 1973, he discovered the ruins of St Peter's Church, which was lost to the sea during the 18th century. He launched major diving expeditions in 1979, 1981 and 1983, with 60 divers from six boats at one point, before the blackness of the water brought him up against the limits of what was possible with the techniques available.

But he knew the story of Dunwich went back much further. The Romans were there and it is likely that it was the site of Dumnoc, the first episcopal see of Saint Felix of Burgundy, the man who introduced Christianity to eastern England, becoming the bridge-builder between the Celtic Christians who had come from Iona in the north and the Roman ones who had come via Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, to the south. Dunwich was, according to the historian Miles Jebb, the "ignition point of English Catholicism". Antiquarians described it as the capital of East Anglia.

Certainly, by 1086, the Domesday Book recorded a town of three parish churches with 290 burghers – including 24 Franci who had come from Normandy with William the Conqueror – some 3,000 citizens and "an hundered poore people". It could afford to give the king, his inspectors decided, an annual gift of "fiftie pounds and three score thousand herings". It was accorded the prestige of a Mint. In the reign of King Henry II (1133-1189) William of Newborough recorded it as "a towne of good note, and full stored with sundrie kindes of riches".


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_b ... 359078.ece
Another article on the exploration of Dunwich:

The sleepy port of Dunwich is about to yield its secrets
Adam Fresco

As a great port on the East of England, Dunwich was nothing short of a medieval metropolis. Eight churches, eighty ships, five religious orders - including the Benedictines, Dominicans and Franciscans - and prosperity to rival London from its trade in wool, grain, fish and furs. Such was the city’s prestige that, under Edward I, it was granted two seats in Parliament.

But that was before Dunwich was swallowed by the sea. This morning, more than five centuries after the last of a succession of storms and sea surges battered the Suffolk city into little more than a village, a research team will set sail to discover the secrets of a British Atlantis.

Using the latest acoustic imaging technology - designed to penetrate the high silt levels that have reduced visibility in the water at the site, a mile off the coast, to inches - the researchers hope to reveal Dunwich in its prime. For Stuart Bacon, a marine archaeologist who has spent 30 years studying how Dunwich disappeared, it will be a momentous day. Mr Bacon has explored the site by touch, using a map from 1587, on more than a thousand dives, but with limited success.

Now with a team from the University of Southampton, led by Professor David Sear, he hopes to locate and catalogue 16 large structures dating back to the 14th century, including at least two churches, a monastery and a palace. Professor Sear said that the team hoped, over the course of the next two days, to identify structures that could be correlated with ancient maps and documents.

Planning for the £25,000 project has taken more than two years, backed by funding from English Heritage and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

“We will be scanning the sea floor, going up and down in grids,” Professor Sear said. “We know from maps and documents that many structures existed, but we do not know where they were, and this will solve that puzzle.”

He added that the expedition did not expect to find any standing structures because most buildings had fallen from cliffs into the sea.

Dunwich had a prominent entry in the Domesday Book. By 1173 it was a place of such substance that Robert, Earl of Leicester, attempted to land 3,000 Flemish troops on its beaches in an attempt to depose Henry II and replace him with his son.

In 1205 there were five royal galleons in the city – a similar number to those in the Port of London – while in 1242, when the truce between King John and the French monarch broke down, Dunwich was able to muster 80 ships to go to the King’s aid.

The demise of Dunwich, perched 14 miles south of Lowestoft, gathered pace in 1286 when a huge surge hit the East Anglian coast. Within 50 years hundreds of houses and other larger buildings had been consigned to the shallow reaches of the North Sea.

Another fierce storm in 1328 destroyed the Benedictine cell, an offshoot of Ely Cathedral, and swept away the Franciscans’ Greyfriars priory and the Dominicans’ Black-friars priory. Two decades later a tempest swept 400 houses, two churches and various shops and windmills into the sea.

In 1510 a pier was erected as a breakwater when the sea approached the market place. The churchwardens at the cruciform church of St John the Baptist sold off all the plate to raise money to build another pier to deflect the waves from their church, but it, too, went over the cliffs in 1542.

And so it went on, until Suffolk was left with the Dunwich of today, a coastal village of shingle beaches, tourists and much local legend - including the sound of midnight tolls of church bells coming from beneath the waves.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/e ... 069386.ece
East Yorkshire gets smaller as the years go by as well...

[/quote] WILGILSLAND The homepage of Pete and Jan Crowther


Lost Towns
Auburn, Hartburn, Northorpe, Monkswell, Monkwike, Waxholme, Dimlington, Turmarr, Orwithfleete, Tharlesthorpe, Owthorne, Hoton, Sunthorpe, old Kilnsea, Ravenser and Ravenser Odd — they all lie under the sea off the Holderness coast, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. In their time they had churches, fields, farm-houses and cottages, mills and ponds, but they were established on the boulder clay coast of Holderness, and their down-fall was inevitable, as the cliffs crumbled into the sea. Some of their names are perpetuated in village street names or houses. Otherwise they are lost indeed.

It has been estimated that when the Romans were in Britain the coastline of Holderness was about three and a half miles further east than it is now. And when the Domesday Book of 1086 gave us our first full list of settlements the coastline was probably about two miles further east. Some of the villages named above still had open fields stretching out to the sea at that date. Their downfall was however predictable, and the retreat of their populations must have been anticipated, though the loss of good farmland, their only support, probably meant penury.

Most of the collapses of these little communities went unrecorded, since they happened before regular written records existed. But the end of Ravenser Odd is a different matter, because it was associated with the Abbey of Meaux, near Beverley, and the monks kept excellent records. Ravenser Odd was a thriving, bustling sea port with streets and buildings at the end of a peninsula (a predecessor of Spurn Head) at the tip of South Holderness. At the height of its fortunes in the early years of the fourteenth century, Ravenser Odd was a town of national importance, supplying the king with two fully equipped ships and armed men for his wars with the Scots. It even achieved borough status and received harbour dues from more than 100 merchant ships a year. Benefiting from a Royal charter, it had its own market and annual fair, a mayor, customs officers and other officials, and was furnished with cargo ships, fishing boats, wharves, warehouses, customs sheds, a tanhouse and windmills as well as boasting a court, prison, and chapel. The port flourished from about 1235, and it lasted over a hundred years. By about 1340 however, the town was being threatened by the inroads of the sea. Sea levels were rising at this time, and if the cyclical theory of the peninsulas at the end of Holderness is correct, this particular spit was coming to the end of its life. By 1346 two thirds of the town and its buildings had been lost to the sea by erosion, and the people that remained were no longer able to make a living by trade, or to pay the tolls and tithes that had been levied upon them. Between 1349 and 1360, the sea completed its destruction of Ravenser Odd. The chronicler of Meaux Abbey described how the erosion exposed the bodies buried in the chapel’s graveyard, much as it was to do some 450 years later at nearby Kilnsea and Owthorne (see below): ‘The inundations of the sea and the Humber had destroyed to its foundations the chapel of Ravenser Odd, built in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that the bodies and bones of the dead were horribly apparent ... ’ As was to happen later at Kilnsea, the bodies were re-buried in the churchyard at Easington. The final days of Ravenser Odd saw scenes of looting and panic-flight, when the town ‘lay open to devastation ... [with the] floods and inundations of the sea ... surrounding it from every side like a wall, thus threatening its imminent annihilation. And so with the terrible vision of waters seen on every side, the besieged persons ... preserved themselves at that time from destruction, flocking together and tearfully imploring grace.’ And so ended Ravenser Odd.

Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil
By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

Part of a Neanderthal man's skull has been dredged up from the North Sea, in the first confirmed find of its kind.

Scientists in Leiden, in the Netherlands, have unveiled the specimen - a fragment from the front of a skull belonging to a young adult male.

Analysis of chemical "isotopes" in the 60,000-year-old fossil suggest a carnivorous diet, matching results from other Neanderthal specimens.

The North Sea is one of the world's richest areas for mammal fossils.

But the remains of ancient humans are scarce; this is the first known specimen to have been recovered from the sea bed anywhere in the world.

For most of the last half million years, sea levels were substantially lower than they are today.

Significant areas of the North Sea were, at times, dry land. Criss-crossed by river systems, with wide valleys, lakes and floodplains, these were rich habitats for large herds of ice age mammals such as horse, reindeer, woolly rhino and mammoth.

Their fossilised remains are brought ashore in large numbers each year by fishing trawlers and other dredging operations.

According to Professor Chris Stringer, from London's Natural History Museum, some fishermen now concentrate on collecting fossils rather than their traditional catch.

"There were mammoth fossils collected off the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts 150 years ago, so we've known for some time there was material down there that was of this age, or even older," Professor Stringer, a museum research leader, told BBC News. Indeed, some of the fossil material from the North Sea dates to the Cromerian stage, between 866,000 and 478,000 years ago.

It had been "only a matter of time", he said, before a human fossil came to light.

Professor Stringer added: "The key thing for the future is getting this material in a better context.

"It would be great if we could get the technology one day to go down and search (in the sea floor) where we can obtain the dating, associated materials and other information we would get if we were excavating on land."

Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were our close evolutionary cousins; they appear in the fossil record some 400,000 years ago.

These resourceful, physically powerful hunter-gatherers dominated a wide range spanning Britain and Iberia in the west, Israel in the south and Siberia in the east.

Our own species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa, and replaced the Neanderthals after entering Europe about 40,000 years ago.

The specimen was found among animal remains and stone artefacts dredged up 15km off the coast of the Netherlands in 2001.

The fragment was spotted by Luc Anthonis, a private fossil collector from Belgium, in the sieving debris of a shell-dredging operation.

Study of the specimen has been led by Professor Jean-Jacques Hublin, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

"Even with this rather limited fragment of skull, it is possible to securely identify this as Neanderthal," Professor Hublin told BBC News.

For instance, the thick bony ridge above the eyes - known as a supraorbital torus - is typical of the species, he said.

The fragment's shape best matches the frontal bones of late Pleistocene examples of this human species, particularly the specimens known as La Chapelle-aux-Saints and La Ferrassie 1.

These examples, which were both unearthed in France, date from between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

The North Sea fossil also bears a lesion caused by a benign tumour - an epidermoid cyst - of a type very rare in humans today.

The research links up with the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain 2 (AHOB 2) project, which aims to set Britain's prehistory in a European context. Dutch archaeologist Wil Roebroeks, a collaborator on this study, is a member of the AHOB 2 research team.


Sea gives up secrets to experts
By Anthony Bartam
BBC News

With shafts of sunlight shimmering through a few metres of crystal clear water, you can pick out the cornerstones of an ancient civilisation which inspired literature and legend.

There is more than a whiff of Atlantis about the story of Pavlopetri - the world's oldest submerged town.

But the Bronze Age site has its roots in fact not fiction.

New underwater archaeology techniques - with sonar mapping used by the military and off-shore oil industry - are giving up new secrets.

An international team, given special permission to dive by the Greek government, has found artefacts on the sea bed dating back 5,000 years.

This fresh information puts the world's oldest submerged town well over a millennium older than previously thought.

Dr Jon Henderson led a team from the University of Nottingham and said the expedition surpassed all expectations.

"This site is unique in that we have almost the complete town plan, the main streets and domestic buildings, courtyards, rock-cut tombs and what appear to be religious buildings, clearly visible on the seabed.

"Equally as a harbour settlement, the study of the archaeological material we have recovered will be extremely important in terms of revealing how maritime trade was conducted and managed in the Bronze Age."

One of the most important discoveries has been what is believed to be a large rectangular great hall, known as a "Megaron", from the early Bronze Age period.

They have also found more than 9,000sq m of new buildings, including a pillar crypt, which could be the first example ever discovered on the Greek mainland.

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture's Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities is overseeing the work.

Official Elias Spondylis said: "It is a rare find and it is significant because, as a submerged site, it was never re-occupied and therefore represents a frozen moment of the past.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nott ... 311246.stm
Another article about Pavlopetri.

Pavlopetri -- the world's oldest known submerged town
October 21st, 2009 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

This image shows large square building foundations at Pavlopetri. Credit: Jon Henderson

The world's oldest known submerged town has been revealed through the discovery of late Neolithic pottery. The finds were made during an archaeological survey of Pavlopetri, off the southern Laconia coast of Greece.

Marine geo-archaeologist Dr Nic Flemming of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton said: "The discovery of Neolithic pottery is incredible! It means that we are looking at a port city which may be 5000-6000 years old, with trade goods and wrecks nearby showing some of the very earliest days of seafaring trade in the Mediterranean."

The project is being carried out by a multidisciplinary team, including Dr Flemming, led by Mr Elias Spondylis, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture in Greece and Dr Jon Henderson, an underwater archaeologist from the Department of Archaeology at The University of Nottingham.

The underwater city was discovered in 1967 by Flemming, then at the National Institute of Oceanography. He worked out that it was Bronze Age, about 2000 BC, and arranged the permit for a team from Cambridge University to map it properly in 1968, which they did using just snorkels and tape measures. The results were published by The British School at Athens in 1969, but no further work has been done over the last 40 years. The site was so remote that its isolation protected it from human interference, while a submerged ridge of rock protected it from erosion.

Nic Flemming -- The curvature of the sea surface and the nearby walls is of course caused by the "fish-eye" lens. There is an obvious wall across the foreground, slightly curved, and two huge wall foundations stretching away parallel towards the diver. There are other walls branching off into the gloom to left and right. Although there are some square or flattened paving stones in the town, almost all the walls are made out of uncut stones like dry-stone sheep walls on Exmoor. They were probably packed with clay to make them stronger, as we know that some of the houses were at least two stories high later in the Bronze Age, from the paintings at Santorini. The diver is Kirsten Flemming, who was the architect-diver for the project. Credit: Pavlopetri Expedition

Now in his 70s, Flemming has joined forces with archaeologists from the University of Nottingham and the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture as part of a five-year collaborative study of the site. The survey methods include laser range-finding on the surface and high-frequency sector-scanning sonar underwater. Their initial findings, and especially the discovery of Neolithic ceramics, mean that the submerged city was occupied at least 5,000 years ago, 1,200 years earlier than previously believed, and perhaps based on a primitive settlement much earlier still. The findings have been made public by the Greek government.

"What we've got here is something which is two or even three thousand years older than most of the submerged cities which have been studied," said Flemming: "And it is uniquely complete. We have almost the complete town plan, the main streets and all of the domestic buildings. We can study how it was used as a port, where ships came in and how trade was managed."

The total town area is about 100,000 square metres, about half of which has so far been mapped. Much is still covered by sand. The team has already found a new area of ruins, measuring about 100 by 100 metres.

Flemming is running the studies of sea-level change and tectonics at the site, while colleague Dr Neil Wells of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science at the National Oceanography Centre and one of his students have already modelled winds and waves to work out aspects of coastal sand transport and erosion.

This is a rectangular cist grave made by four stones standing on edge. The markings on the range pole are in 25cm bands. Credit: Nic Flemming

There is a lot more work to do in analysing the sand movements over the site, plotting various findings of submerged 'beachrock' which can be dated showing earlier shorelines now hundreds of metres offshore, and modelling the process of inundation itself.

The Hellenic Centre for Marine Research plans to provide a geophysics research boat in 2010 to measure the sub-bottom profiles to get sediment thickness in key areas around the submerged city, and confirm the position of the shoreline at different dates.

The permit runs for another four years.

Source: National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Rising seas 'clue' in sunken world off Orkney

A unique discovery of submerged man-made structures on the seabed off Orkney could help find solutions to rising sea levels, experts have said.

They said the well preserved stone pieces near the island of Damsay are the only such examples around the UK.

It is thought some of the structures may date back thousands of years.

Geomorphologist Sue Dawson said that people have survived and adapted in the past and it is that adaption to climate change that needs to be learned from.

One of the team, archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones, of the University of Aberdeen, said of their freezing investigations under the December seas off Orkney: "We have certainly got a lot of stonework. There are some quite interesting things. You can see voids or entrances.

"There's this one feature that is like a stone table - you've got a large slab about a metre and a half long and it's sitting up on four pillars or walls so the next thing we need to do is to get plans and more photographs to try and assess and look for patterns.

"The quality and condition of some of the stonework is remarkable. Nothing like this has ever been found on the seabed around the UK."

Geophysicist Richard Bates, from the Scottish Oceans Institute, said: "We've got other sites down on the south coast of England where we have got submerged landscapes, meso-neolithic landscapes as we have here but what we haven't got anywhere else is actual structures.

"I don't say that's unique - that we'll never find that anywhere else, but so far we haven't seen such things before."

In general Scotland's mainland has been getting higher - but the surrounding islands have been sinking.

Sue Dawson, a geomorphologist from the University of Dundee, has been studying how and why the coast line is constantly changing.

She said: "One of the key premises behind a lot of the study of the past is that the past is a key to the present and the future.

"So we can look to times when maybe environmental changes have been much more rapid and much more catastrophic in some instances and people have survived and adapted and it's that adaption to climate change is one of the key things that we need to get to grips with."

The experts said the seabed around Orkney may be littered with man-made structures.

Richard Bates added: "We can look at the terrestrial landscape around here and see how man's occupied that.

"Pretty much anywhere in Orkney you can see a vista which has part of man within it, ancient man in the environment.

"The similar case is going to be in this drowned landscape so the few places we have seen so far are the biggest features but we expect to see much more as we dissect that landscape in finer and finer detail."

And they believe that while looking at an uncertain future it may pay to look into the past.

Caroline Wickham-Jones said: "The really interesting thing about this bay is the stories relating to things under the sea and sea-level change. Our ancestors were dealing with similar problems to ourselves and we'd like to see how they coped with it."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/nor ... 416600.stm
Pavlopetri: A window on to Bronze Age suburban life
By Dr Jon Henderson, University of Nottingham

Semi-detached houses with gardens, clothes drying in the courtyards, walls and well-made streets - Pavlopetri epitomises the suburban way of life. Except that it's a Bronze Age port, submerged for millennia off the south-east coast of Greece.

This summer it became the first underwater city to be fully digitally mapped and recorded in three dimensions, and then brought back to life with computer graphics.
The result shows how much it has in common with port cities of today - Liverpool, London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo or Shanghai - despite the fact that its heyday was 4,000 years ago.

Covering an area of about eight football pitches, Pavlopetri appears as a series of large areas of stones indicating building complexes, among which a network of walls can be traced.
It is a city of well-built roads lined by detached and semi-detached two-storey houses. There are larger apparently public buildings and evidence of a complex water management system involving channels and guttering.
The city was divided into pleasant courtyards and open areas where people cultivated gardens, ground grain, dried clothes and chatted with their neighbours.

Dotted in between the buildings and sometimes built into the walls themselves there are stone-lined graves. These contrast with an organised cemetery just outside the city.
There is much about Pavlopetri that parallels our own towns and cities, and our own suburban way of life - people living side by side along planned-out streets.

This was not a village of farmers but a stratified society where people had professions - there were city leaders, officials, scribes, merchants, traders, craftsmen (potters, bronze workers, artists), soldiers, sailors, farmers, shepherds and also probably slaves.
Greek Bronze Age society was becoming hierarchical and very organised, everyone had a clearly defined role to play.

The rise and fall of Pavlopetri coincided roughly with the period of the first European civilizations - the Minoans from Crete and later the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece.
Although the power of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations was largely based on their control of the sea, archaeology has tended to focus on the better-known inland palaces and citadels.

By contrast, Pavlopetri offers a unique opportunity to study in detail how an ancient port functioned, how ships came in and, most importantly, the extent of maritime contacts and trade in the Bronze Age.
As a thriving port Pavlopetri was open to a heady mix of influences from the sea. Like modern coastal cities its wealth was built on commerce and trade.
Visiting traders and seafarers ensured that the people of Pavlopetri were in touch with all the latest innovations and were at the cutting edge of current fashions.

Archaeologists have recovered the shards of everyday items such as cooking pots, crockery, jugs, storage vessels and grinding stones as well as finer drinking vessels probably kept to impress and brought out when higher status guests paid a visit or used to make offerings to the gods.
Imported vessels came from all around the Aegean and from Minoan Crete. Equally the people of Pavlopetri copied Cretan and mainland styles producing their own versions out of local pottery.

In some cases they made exact ceramic copies of high status Cretan bronze jugs - in effect making cheap copies of expensive exotic goods in much the same way that desirable designer brands are copied today.

Scattered all over the seabed at Pavlopetri are the remains of hundreds of large storage vessels known as pithoi.
These could have been easily loaded on and off ships and were used to transport a range of commodities including olive oil, wine, dyes, perfumes and smaller exotica such as figurines or high status table wares.

Dense concentrations of these vessels at particular buildings suggest a form of centralised storage and presumably redistribution was taking place at the site.
Such an operation would have required an advanced level of administration and accounting to keep track of imports and exports.
It would have required written documents and we can assume that in common with the finds of Linear A tablets from Minoan sites and Linear B tablets from Mycenaean sites - the first evidence of writing in Europe - some form of script was known and used at Pavlopetri - although no definite evidence has so far been found.

Pavlopetri was part of the birth of a new type of city in Europe. Not one based around a god-like king or sacred palatial structure, but rather one based on trade and economics.
All of the world's major modern coastal cities owe their success to their relationship with the sea. All had at their heart a gateway to the sea and the rest of the world. Pavlopetri can perhaps be seen as one of the first links in this chain which continues to this day.

City Beneath the Waves Pavlopetri will be on BBC Two at 8pm on Sunday 9 October 2011 and after on BBC iPlayer