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Landscape Beneath the Waves


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The Archaeological Investigation of Underwater Landscapes.

Studying Scientific Archaeology 4.

By Caroline Wickham-Jones.


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At the end of the last Ice Age, relative sea-level around the world was lower, coastal lands stretched further and the continents were bigger, in some cases landmasses were joined by dry land that has now disappeared beneath the waves. The study of the submerged landscapes that our ancestors knew represents one of the last barriers for archaeology. Only recently have advances in underwater technology reached the stage where a wealth of procedures is available to explore this lost undersea world. This volume considers the processes behind the rising (and falling) of relative sea-levels and then present the main techniques available for the study and interpretation of the archaeological remains that have survived inundation.

Case studies are used to illustrate particular applications. Finally, a review of projects around the world highlights the varying scale and period of sites concerned. Submerged archaeological sites often include the preservation of fragile materials such as decorated timbers, that shed rare detail on the communities of prehistory; in other cases the features of the landscape context into which they are set can be extraordinarily well-preserved. This is a book for all archaeologists, whether they work on land or at sea, and for all who are interested in the past; it illustrates the shape of the world as it once was and explains why need to understand it. It offers an easily accessible introduction to the exciting realm of underwater archaeology.

Archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones lives in Orkney where she is part of a team undertaking research on the changing landscape of Orkney and in particular the submerged landscape around the islands, created as relative sea-level has risen since the end of the last Ice Age. She is an expert on the early prehistoric communities of Scotland and has worked as a lecturer for the University of Aberdeen.

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