Atlit fortress

Tsunami or melting glaciers: What caused ancient Atlit to sink ?

By Ofri Ilani

At the bottom of the sea, some 300 meters west of the Atlit fortress, lies one of the greatest archaeological mysteries of the Mediterranean basin.

About 20 years ago, archaeologists discovered a complex of ancient buildings and ancient graves with dozens of skeletons at the underwater site of Atlit-Yam.

The team of marine archaeologists that excavated the site, headed by Dr. Ehud Galili of the Israel Antiquities Authority, came to the conclusion that an ancient settlement once existed there, but sank beneath the surface of the sea some 8,000 years ago.

The finds at the site, including goat and pig bones and wheat seeds, indicate that it was a well-established community whose residents supported themselves by agriculture, hunting, fishing and animal husbandry.

Over the past few months, a major argument has erupted among researchers over what caused the village and the surrounding region to flood.

A few months ago, a team of geologists from Pisa, Italy published a paper that offers a dramatic theory about how the ancient settlement met its end.

They claim that the settlement was submerged all at once by a tsunami in the Mediterranean, causing the death of dozens of its inhabitants.

This theory attributes the tsunami to something that happened thousands of kilometers away.