Underwater archaeology a new field of exploration

By Bradley T. Lepper

Archaeologists in the UK are exploring a vast expanse of sea floor between southeastern England and the Netherlands that, between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, was a rich landscape inhabited by Mesolithic hunters and gatherers.

The team named this sunken world "Doggerland", which Laura Spinney describes in the July 10 issue of Nature as having once been a paradise of marshes, lakes and rivers.

Using seismic survey data, these archaeologists have created a map of Doggerland that is providing crucial context for artifacts that occasionally are scooped up in fishing nets.

James Adovasio, director of the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pa., and C. Andrew Hemmings, an archaeologist with the University of Texas at Austin, are leading an expedition that is surveying the seabed along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Having mapped the submerged landscape, they will send a diving robot to explore likely locations for archaeological sites.

Ohio has its own lost world beneath Lake Erie. With the advance and retreat of glaciers, Lake Erie has risen and fallen dramatically over the millennia. About 4,000 years ago, the level of the lake was about 30 feet below modern levels.