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Atlit-Yam: A Unique 9000 Year Old Prehistoric Village Submerged off the Carmel Coast, Israel – The SPLASHCOS Field School (2011)

Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL,volume 20)

Abstract

The site of Atlit-Yam is one of the best preserved and most thoroughly investigated submerged prehistoric settlements in the world, with a wealth of finds of material culture and organic remains characteristic of a Pre-Pottery Neolithic village based on a mixed economy of farming and fishing 9000 years ago. Stone-lined water wells were also found, providing a precise measure of sea-level position when the site was in use, as well as a megalithic structure and human burials. Eventually the site was abandoned in the face of progressive sea-level rise, and later Neolithic settlements, were occupied at a higher level, and are now submerged closer to the shore. SPLASHCOS funding to support a Training School, allowed renewed investigations in 2011, providing an unusual opportunity for early stage researchers to gain experience and training on a submerged prehistoric settlement which also resulted in the discovery of some new features. This chapter provides a summary of the finds recovered from Atlit-Yam, the evidence for sea-level change, and a detailed description of the methods used in underwater survey and excavation.

Keywords

  • Underwater archaeology
  • Sea-level change
  • SCUBA
  • Dredging system
  • Human burials
  • Excavation methods
  • Neolithic

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Acknowledgements

The 2011 excavation at Atlit-Yam was undertaken within the framework of a field school organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, both at the University of Haifa. Other associated institutions included The Israel Prehistoric Society, The Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Faculty of Medicine at the Tel-Aviv University and the Eco-Ocean organisation. The entire activity was supported and funded by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Trans-Domain Action TD0902 SPLASHCOS, with a contribution also coming from Alpha-Zoulou Films (a Canadian production company), who filmed the process and interviewed the team as part of a scientific documentary. Other supporters of the Atlit-Yam project included: The National Geographic Foundation, The Irene Levi Care Archaeological Foundation, The Dan David Foundation, The Margolis Foundation, the Honor Frost Foundation and the Leplestat family. We are grateful to them all. Last but not least, we thank all the divers and the volunteers and the underwater photographers J. Galili, I. Greenberg and A. Zaid.

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Correspondence to Ehud Galili .

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Galili, E. et al. (2017). Atlit-Yam: A Unique 9000 Year Old Prehistoric Village Submerged off the Carmel Coast, Israel – The SPLASHCOS Field School (2011). In: Bailey, G., Harff, J., Sakellariou, D. (eds) Under the Sea: Archaeology and Palaeolandscapes of the Continental Shelf. Coastal Research Library, vol 20. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-53160-1_6

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