Early seafaring and the archaeology of submerged landscapes
Geoff N. Bailey A.J. Ammerman & T. Davis (eds), Island Archaeology and the Origins of Seafaring in the Eastern Mediterranean, Eurasian Prehistory 10 (1-2) (2013): 99-114
Sea level change has been a near-continuous accompaniment to human settlement in all coastal regions throughout the history of human existence on this planet, with sea levels persisting at levels at least 40–60 m below present for most of the time and sometimes dropping to more than twice this depth. This fact has far-reaching consequences: for the reconstruction of past coastlines and oceanographic conditions; for the submergence of coastal and peri-coastal settlements associated with evidence for seafaring and marine resource exploitation; for the consequent loss of relevant evidence and the bias this introduces into the surviving archaeological record; and for an understanding of the environmental and socioeconomic impact of sea level rise at the end of the last glaciation. In this chapter, I chart the increasing acceptance of the need to research the palaeo-shorelines and submerged landscapes of the continental shelf in the face of prolonged scepticism that this is feasible or worthwhile, and discuss the evidence now emerging for why this is important, and how it can be explored further.