Saturday, July 12, 2008

Archaeology: The lost world
The most immediate way in which the map will be useful, however, is in giving context to marine archaeological finds. For more than a century, fishing boats — particularly Dutch beam trawlers, whose nets scrape the seabed — have been scooping prehistoric material out of the North Sea. Most of it dates from the Palaeolithic, the vast era that ended around 10,000 years ago, and includes the bones of woolly mammoths and reindeer from the last ice age. But there is also some more recent, Mesolithic material. Until now, archaeologists haven’t been sure how to interpret these scattered remains. But with the Doggerland map, “we’ll be able to position the archaeological finds within that landscape to understand their meaning,” says Hans Peeters of the National Service for Archaeology, Cultural Landscape and Built Heritage in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Lots of good stuff. This section particularly struck me:
Some of the artefacts have been radiocarbon dated to between 10,000 and 8,100 years ago, and all come from a small area just off the southern edge of the Birmingham map of Doggerland. The Dutch call it ‘De Stekels’ (‘The Spines’) because there are steep dunes that were probably once close to a river. Although the artefacts were lying loose on the seabed, Glimmerveen is convinced there was a Mesolithic settlement on or close to those dunes, and Peeters agrees. “You can look at it in a similar way to ploughed fields,” he says. “Objects may have been displaced, but not over very large areas.”

Which is neat because they're talking about some pretty fair characterizations of underwater sites.