Oldest Known Seawall Discovered Along Submerged Mediterranean Villages
By Megan Gannon/Smithsonian.com
Life on the coast is full of rewards. Shore-dwellers can exploit the ecological resources of the land and the sea. They can harvest both timber and seaweed. They can grow grains and gather shellfish. They can travel over the ground or over the waves. (Not to mention, they get great views.)
But those benefits come with risks. The coast is a demanding, ever-changing environment that requires ongoing adaptations. We can see such efforts today in carefully managed artificial sand dunes and levees designed to protect against pounding waves and rising water. And a new discovery shows that even in prehistory, coast-huggers were building these defenses, too.
Off the shores of northern Israel, archaeologists found a 7,000-year-old wall that stretches more than 330 feet (100 meters) long. The researchers have interpreted the structure as a seawall for a Stone Age village, making it the oldest such coastal defense structure that’s ever been identified. The find was described today in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Coastal sites of this preservation quality and date are very uncommon globally,” says archaeologist Anders Fischer, of Sealand Archaeology in Denmark, who was not involved in the study. Between 2009 and 2013, Fischer was the head of an EU-funded group that evaluated all available data on early prehistoric archaeology under water in Europe, Turkey and Israel. To his knowledge, he says, “there are no Stone Age wall-like features of this size known anywhere below present sea level.”