Coastal societies hold a vital place in Mediterranean history; many of their earliest trajectories, however, are archaeologically obscure due to a rise in sea levels since the last Ice Age. BEFOREtheFLOOD is based on an observation that before it was inundated, the Mediterranean littoral was extremely dynamic (e.g. formation/retreat of marshes, increased soil salinity, rapidly rising sea levels), necessitating constant reactions by its inhabitants. This project aims to study how Neolithic coastal societies in the Eastern Mediterranean pioneered cultural responses to environmental changes, and how these enabled the development of Mediterranean complex societies. The earliest known Mediterranean coastal settlements and their paleo-landscapes, now situated offshore along the Carmel Coast, Israel, will be studied by drilling sediment cores and through underwater excavations, followed by microscopic and chemical analysis in the laboratory that will integrate geoarchaeology, bioarchaeology and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. The project?s novelty lies in its approach, which will generate a high-resolution diachronic model of how hyper-localised environmental dynamics are directly related to archaeological evidence of adaptive solutions. The project will test how Neolithic coastal communities constantly readapted to dynamic environmental processes over time by modifying their environment, and developing new technologies and social interactions (i.e. negotiations with inland farmers) that fostered the establishment of a unique Mediterranean coastal society. BEFOREtheFLOOD will elucidate an important and as-yet unread chapter of a world now lost beneath the sea; one that will help to rewrite the early story of the Eastern Mediterranean coast as the springboard for innovation, adaptation, and connectivity that set the scene for the development of later Mediterranean complex societies.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme