Due to Global Warming?
Doggerland once connected Great Britain to mainland Europe before it was finally destroyed, probably following a tsunami, around 8,200 years ago. It was a rich habitat. Modern North Sea fishing trawlers have dredged up the remains of mammoths, lions, even the 40,000 year-old skull fragment of a Neanderthal, as well as prehistoric tools and weapons.
UK Archaeologists, molecular biologists and computer scientists have now received funding worth £2 million (US $3 million) from the European Research Council to bring Doggerland back to life, digitally.
Vast remote sensing data sets generated by energy companies will help to produce a detailed 3D map of the rivers, lakes, hills and coastlines which were once the heartland of human occupation in Mesolithic Europe. Survey ships will also recover core sediment samples from selected areas of the landscape. The project team will use the sediments to extract millions of fragments of ancient DNA from the plants and animals (and possibly humans) that occupied Europe’s ancient coastal plains.
The data from seismic mapping and sedimentary DNA will be combined within computer simulations to build a comprehensive picture of the Doggerland environment over its final 5,000 years before it sank beneath the waves.
Professor Vince Gaffney, a Landscape Archaeologist at the University of Bradford, said:
“The only populated lands on earth that have not yet been explored in any depth are those which have been lost underneath the sea.
“Although archaeologists have known for a long time that ancient climatic change and sea level rise must mean that Doggerland holds unique and important information about early human life in Europe, until now we have lacked the tools to investigate this area properly.
“This project is exciting not only because of what it will reveal about Doggerland, but because it gives us a whole new way of approaching the massive areas of land that were populated by humans but which now lie beneath the sea. This project will develop technologies and methodologies that archaeologists around the world can use to explore similar landscapes including those around the Americas and in South East Asia.”