| 8 October 2010
Excavation begins on submerged Welsh villages
Ancient stone and willow walls can be found across Wales today. Dr. Andrew Peterson has begun to look for them off the coast of several Welsh towns. Peterson recently excavated a complete town from the sands of Qatar. "Wales and Qatar happen to have some of the best-preserved fish traps in the world. They are mostly woven from branches of willow or made of stone. And they look like dry stone walls under the sea. We believe they date back thousands of years, possibly to prehistoric fishermen, although we are not entirely sure how, when or why they were built," he said.
"These fish traps, that can stretch for miles, can still be seen under water now and some of the best are in the Severn Estuary and at Fishguard in Pembrokeshire. We believe they date back to the times when mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers roamed Wales. And fishermen would probably have caught octopus and cuttlefish in them. Both the Irish Sea and the Arabian Gulf are shallow seas, so a large amount of their areas would have once been land, before the sea levels rose," Dr. Peterson added.
According to Dr. Martin Bates, who specializes in undersea archaeology at Lampeter University (U.K.), "Landscapes that were previously dry 6,000 years ago and beyond are buried under the sea all around Wales. At low tide, you can see evidence of fossil forests off the coast of Borth and Clarach Bay in West Wales. And drills below sea level two or three miles off the coast of Aberaeron have recovered peat deposits and pollen from when the area was developing water marshes."
Dr. Bates added: "We know that 20,000 years ago the sea around Wales was 125 metres below its current level. The current sea level was established 6000 years ago, when the last of the big game hunters were returning to Britain after the last Ice Age and moving into caves in Pembrokeshire and Gower. 10,000 years ago, the ice melted, sea levels rose and the temperature warmed to its current level and there was a switch to Mesolithic hunters, chasing forest animals and marine life."
"These Welsh mobile hunters would have undoubtedly lived in skin tents and huts on the edge of the dense forests near rivers and would have made axes and stone tools.We are going to use multi-beam sonar surveys to look beneath the sand banks and see what is under the sea bed above the rock, that relates to the last Ice Age. This new science is still in its infancy," Dr. Bates concluded.
Edited from Western Mail, Wales Online (25 September 2010)
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