Monday, June 16, 2014

Atlit Yam Submerged Ruins of Ancient Neolithic Site

Atlit Yam 1
Atlit Yam is located around 200 to 400m offshore at a depth of around eight to twelve meters extending over an area of ca. 40,000sq.m not far from the coast of the village of Atlit in the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa in Israel.

It is the submerged ruins of the ancient Neolithic site and this prehistoric settlement dates back to the seventh millennium BC which has been preserved well by the sandy sea-bed with a mysterious stone circle which stands as if it was first erected. 

Atlit Yam 2
It is one of the largest and the oldest sunken settlements found, which gives us some information about the ancient inhabitants.

The site was first discovered in the year 1984 by Ehud Galili, a marine archaeologist and thereafter, underwater excavations took place to know more about this ancient settlement.

The architectural discoveries made consisted of stone built water wells, series of unconnected walls, stone paved areas, foundations of rectangular structures, round and ritual installations, the megalithic structures with thousands of flora and faunal remains with numerous artifacts of stone, bone flint and wood. Besides this, around sixty five human skeletons were also discovered in both primary and secondary burials which lay there undisturbed.

Center of the Settlement – Seven Megaliths

Atlit Yam 3
Towards the center of the settlement, were seven megaliths measuring 1.0 to 2.1 meters high, weighing around 600 kg which seemed to be arranged in a stone semicircle.

These stone had cup marks which had been carved into them and were once arranged around a freshwater spring which indicates that they could have been used for water ritual while another installation of three oval stone of around 1.6 to 1.8 meters, two of which have grooves forming schematic anthropomorphic figures.

The stone built well another of its significant structure which was excavated down to a depth of 5.5 meters had sediment fill containing animal bones, stone, flint, wood and bone artifacts at the base of the well indicating that it had ceased to function as a water well but was used as a disposal pit.

This change could probably be related to salinization of water which was responsible in the rise of sea level.

Atlit Yam Archaeological Material, Complex

Atlit Yam 4
Many discoveries made with regards to this settlement gives us an insight into how the prehistoric inhabitants lived during that time and traces of more than hundred species of plants which grew at the site or that which were collected, together with animal remains of both wild and domestic animals indicate that the residents raised as well as hunted animals for survival.

The archaeological material also indicates that Atlit Yam was complex and was based on the combined use of terrestrial as well as marine resources for plant cultivation, hunting, livestock husbandry, gathering and fishing providing the earliest known evidence for agro pastoral marine subsistence system on the Levantine coast.

Greatest Archaeological Mysteries

Atlit Yam 5
Atlit Yam is one of the greatest archaeological mysteries on how it happened to be submerged in the first place.

A study conducted by an Italian, Maria Pareschi of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and volcanology in Pisa shows that a volcanic collapse of the Easter flank of Mount Etna 8,500 years ago could have been the cause of a 40 meters high tsunami which engulfed some of Mediterranean coastal cities within hours.

Some are speculating that the apparent abandonment of the site around that time and the fish remains indicate that the tsunami could have occurred.

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