From the Neolithic to the 20th century – Preserving the 10.000 years old underwater archaeological heritage of Israel

By Ehud Galili

sabato, ore 16.00 - presso sala Maiorca

Dr. Ehud Galili – University of Haifa

The land of Israel has been a crossroad and a busy trading route of many civilizations since the Neolithic period. Thousands of years of commerce, fishing, seafaring and naval warfare, have left an abundance of archaeological remains and artifacts on the sea bed. The finds include submerged prehistoric settlements, shipwrecks and cargoes, ports and anchorages, as well as aircrafts, submarines and shipwrecks of the last 100 years. The underwater archaeological heritage of the Land of Israel represents important chapters in the history of humanity, and is associated with the beginning of agriculture and the emergence of the three major monotheistic religions. Intensive underwater archaeological activities which have been carried out in the last 50 years, yielded valuable information about the material culture, seafaring, fishing methods and economy of ancient populations of the eastern Mediterranean coasts. Thus, underwater archaeology adds new dimensions to the research of ancient cultures in the Mediterranean. As a result of global warming and melting ice caps close to the poles, sea level has risen during the last 10,000 years. The rising sea inundated coastal prehistoric settlements and they are currently submerged. During the 20th century, intensified human activity (e.g. sand quarrying and the construction of harbors) has resulted in the exposure of underwater archaeological sites which have been covered by a protective layer of sand for thousands of years. Sites of great historical value are threatened by treasure-hunting, coastal erosion and massive development projects along the coast. Exposed, and unprotected, these invaluable cultural resources may be lost forever within the next few decades