New technologies bring marine archaeology treasures to light

No one knows what happened at Atlit-Yam. The ancient village appeared to be thriving until 7000BC. The locals kept cattle, caught fish and stored grain. They had wells for fresh water, stone houses with paved courtyards. Community life played out around an impressive monument: seven half-tonne stones that stood in a semicircular embrace around a spring where people came to drink. Then one day, life ended.

The village that once sat on the Mediterranean coast now lies 10 metres beneath the waves off Israel’s shore. It was inundated when sea levels rose at the end of the last ice age. But Atlit-Yam was destroyed before then, and swiftly, perhaps by a tsunami. Buried under sand at the bottom of the sea, it now ranks as the largest and best preserved prehistoric settlement ever found on the seafloor. Human skeletons still lie there in graves, undisturbed.

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