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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds DR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds HELEN FARR: So Maritime archaeology isn’t always just about shipwrecks. It’s also about the dynamics of the sea and submerged landscapes. DR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds FRASER STURT: So with 120 metres of vertical sea level change, we’ve see a dramatic change in the shape of the Earth. So all the areas outlined in light blue here are the continental shelf, with large parts of this would have been exposed at lower sea levels. DR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 seconds HELEN FARR: And it’s not just coastlines that people were living on. If we look to the North Sea, which would have been Doggerland, if you were stood in the middle of Doggerland, you would be as far from the coast as you are from Prague to the modern-day coast. So actually we’re thinking of whole terrestrial landscapes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds And this is really key because when we start thinking about really big questions, for example human diaspora or dispersals out of Africa by our modern ancestors, anatomically modern humans, around the Indian Ocean, across this basin– Sunda Basin– and into Australasia, we begin to see how important the coast and important these continental shelves were that we might not only be able to find submerged archaeology but that it might be able to give us really important information and the unique opportunity to start looking at key questions about how these people moved and how humans originated. DR.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds FRASER STURT: And it’s not just the deep time. As we come through into the Holocene, so into the last 20,000 years, we see topics such as the colonisation of America. So with Beringia here with lowered sea levels, this would have provided a lowland, marshy environment that people could have moved across to access America. Similarly, the shallow coastal strip along it could provide a highway for people within skin boats to travel down into the Americas. DR.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds HELEN FARR: And when we start thinking about the potential for preservation, what we need to understand is that taphonomically, material can be preserved. So it can withstand these regressions and transgressions of the sea levels. And we know this is not just hypothetical because we have these outstanding submerged archaeological sites. For example, here in the Baltic Sea of Denmark, we have the site of Tybrind Vig, where not only we have this amazing organic preservation, but we’ve got decorated paddles and log boats themselves. And we also have a similar preservation here very locally in the south of the UK in the Solent where we have lithic material and worked wood also being preserved in the submerged context. DR.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 seconds FRASER STURT: What’s really important is while the Danes really led the worldness– and we always joke in archaeology that the Danes have been there first in maritime archaeology– but actually if you look at this map of the world and focus on the light blue areas, we’re now where this potential stretches across the globe and has significance for everyone from the Japanese archipelago through down into India, the large expanse of the North Sea, and across into America and South America. So this has the potential to reshape not just how we think about localised, small-scale problems or the wonders of the amazingly beautiful carved paddles but actually has a global significance.

Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds And beyond this, the archives we use to tell these stories informs about the rate and nature of environmental change at a global scale. How rapidly did these landscapes inundate? What was it like to be in the southern North Sea where your ancestors may have hunted out in landscapes which were now the sea? So these are significant things which archaeologists need to think about, and it’s also changed how we think about the nature of the sea itself. So submerged paleolandscapes may be not as inviting immediately as shipwrecks, but this is the big picture stuff that for me and for Helen we’re really interested in.

Submerged landscapes and prehistory

In this video, Fraser and Helen explore how the planet may have differed with lower sea-levels during the last glaciation and discuss submerged landscapes on the exposed continental shelves.

Taphonomically - The time between death and fossilisation.

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Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

University of Southampton

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