Seven years ago, a team of divers uncovered a set of ancient fishing traps off of the coast of Sweden. Radiocarbon dating confirmed the traps were built during the Mesolithic, or middle Stone Age period roughly 9,000 years ago. That discovery set in motion a full-scale excavation of the underwater site, which has now been confirmed to be a complete Mesolithic fishing village that some archaeologists have dubbed the “Swedish Atlantis.”
Researchers combed the area with a specific type of sonar called multibeam echo-sounder technology, which provide full three-dimensional images of structures lying just below the seabed. Some of the artifacts found at the site include a pick axe carved out of elk antlers and eight highly sophisticated fish traps made of braided wooden rods.
The findings have been published in the archaeological journal Quaternary International. According to the article, the 9,000-year old fishing technology found during excavations is the first of its kind:
Several unprecedented archaeological findings made in the study area are presented and discussed, including stationary fishing constructions, dated to c.9100–8400 cal BP. These constructions, the oldest known in Northern Europe, indicate extensive riverine and lagoonal fishing, previously not recorded during the Mesolithic in Sweden.
Anton Hansson, a researcher at Lund University and lead author of this study, stated in a university press release that this find could fill in many of the gaps in our knowledge about human history during the early and middle Stone Age:
These sites have been known, but only through scattered finds. We now have the technology for more detailed interpretations of the landscape. If you want to fully understand how humans dispersed from Africa, and their way of life, we also have to find all their settlements. Quite a few of these are currently underwater, since the sea level is higher today than during the last glaciation.
Aside from the archaeological and historical significance, this site shows that even as far back as 9,000 years ago, sea level rise has affected coastal settlements and led to human migration. While that shouldn’t be a reason to keep your gas-guzzling SUV idling with the A/C running, it should at least reassure us that no matter what untold horrors climate change unleashes upon the Earth, humankind can and will adapt. Until that giant meteor hits us, anyway. Then we’re really doomed.