When people think of underwater cities, the legendary doomed civilization of Atlantis is often the first to come to mind. However, approximately 9,000 years ago, during the Stone Age, there was a settlement where Mesolithic humans lived good lives, fishing and hunting for sustenance and enjoying the benefits of a welcoming climate.
As sea levels rose in subsequent centuries, the settlement slowly sank underwater. This long-forgotten community remained undiscovered until divers recently located it submerged deep in the waters of Hanö Bay off the coast of Havang, Sweden.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden reported in Quaternary International that the underwater settlement yielded magnificent findings. Items uncovered included a 9,000-year-old pick ax made from elk antlers and covered with mysterious inscriptions. There were also numerous fish traps found, created with braided hazel rods. These objects give valuable insight into early human existence. The fishing traps, which date back 9,000-8,500 years, reveal that there was a warm period in Holocene history in which settlers could catch multitudes of fish in a genial climate. Divers found the oldest known stationary fish traps at the site six years ago.
As described by Anton Hansson, a Ph.D. student in quaternary geology at Lund University, the discovery of the submerged Swedish Stone Age settlement is quite significant in archaeology and geology. In order to completely understand how humans dispersed from Africa and lived their lives around the world, their settlements must be discovered and studied. These communities are often underwater because prehistoric sea levels were much lower than current sea levels. As humans throughout history have always preferred to settle along coasts, their settlements were left underwater when sea levels rose over the centuries, Mail Online reported.
Modern technology is also assisting Lund University researchers with their exploration of the settlement. Anton Hansson and his team use a myriad of techniques in their studies, including radiocarbon dating of the seafloor to determine its history. They have also studied pollen and diatoms in the area. By using a bathymetrical map, researchers can show depth variations in the settlement. Hansson explained, “As geologists, we want to recreate this area and understand how it looked. Was it warm or cold? How did the environment change over time?”
Unlike the mythical Atlantis, the underwater settlement in Sweden’s Hanö Bay is the real deal.
It may not be a utopia filled with silver and gold, but what it contains is far more valuable – knowledge about the earliest human societies.