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18 February 2011
The Solent's submerged ancient village

In the summer of 2000, archaeologists discovered an 8,000-year-old village in the Solent, on the sea bed near the Isle of Wight (England). The settlement is the oldest site of human occupation ever found below sea level in British waters. Once, this was home to a coastal community of hunter-gatherers, living a way of life which had barely changed for thousands of years.
    "The thing that I'm actually finding the most amazing of all, is the fact that we're thirty feet (9 metres) under water, where people once walked, and lived, and perhaps stayed for a while. These big bits of timber here, they are all worked. That big bit is possibly part of an old log boat," said an archaeologist working for the BBC who recently visited that submerged site.
    What's been discovered here is more than an ancient hunting camp. It's the oldest boat-building yard in the world, and it contains fragile evidence of the sophistication of the people who once lived here.
    "This piece of timber, is over 8000 years old. See those grooves - how clearly defined they are? That's woodworking. So someone 8000 years ago was working with a stone tool to create these grooves. As a general rule, you just don't see organic material coming out of mesolithic sites. You get the stone tools, but to see what those stone tools were being used for is the other half of the equation," added the archaeologist.
    Archaeologists recovered worked flints, including tools and blades, and sections of oak trees. Tests, including carbon-14 dating and tree-ring dating, have established that the settlement dates back to between 6615 BCE and 6395 BCE.

Transcribed and Edited from BBC News (14 February 2011)

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