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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsDR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsFRASER STURT: So, a lot of the time, the discussions of sea level can seem quite abstract. We either present a graph with a few points on it or show you some geophysical data which indicates the potential for a submerged landscape, the submerged worlds we've been talking about. But one of the really exciting part of archaeology is that we deal with material, the stuff of the past. And what I have here is a record of sea level change over the last 10,000 years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 secondsThis is a core from the southern North Sea where we have the old riverbed surface when this was a landscape transgressing through a peat horizon as it gets wetter, getting darker and darker and shifting into clays and silts until it's finally overtopped by the seabed here. In this, we have a record not only of changing environments but also what people were doing. We can extract pollen from this and look at the change in vegetation. We can look at micro charcoal and see the fires that people were creating. So when we talk about submerged worlds, they're not hypothetical places that may have existed. We have physical evidence for where they were and what they were like.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 secondsAnd it's this that allows us to write the stories of the past with such vivid detail and to really change our understanding of what it was like to live all that time ago.

Core analysis

In this brief video, Fraser shows a core sample from the North Sea and explains how it contributes to our understanding of sea-level change. In addition, he considers how we can gain insights into human activity in the past through sediment cores. As such, what you might think of as being ‘geological’ data in fact often has a large part to play in archaeological investigation.


If you are interested in learning more about core samples, we have shared a video on the course blog about the life of a core sample.

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This video is from the free online course:

Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

University of Southampton

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