|23 September 2015
Huge underwater monolith found off coast of Sicily
Archaeologists have discovered a mysterious monolith in the deep sea off the coast of Sicily (Italy), shedding new light on the earliest civilizations in the Mediterranean basin. Broken in two parts, the 12 m long monolith has a rather regular shape and features three holes of similar diameter. One, which can be found at its end, crosses it completely from part to part, the others appear at two sides of the massive stone. Such features leave no doubt that the monolith was man-made some 10,000 years ago.
"There are no reasonable known natural processes that may produce these elements," Zvi Ben-Avraham, from the Department of Earth Sciences at Tel Aviv University, and Emanuele Lodolo, from the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics in Trieste, Italy, wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The monolith was found at a depth of 40 m, on what was once an island in the Sicilian Channel. Called Pantelleria Vecchia Bank, the island was located some 24 miles north of the volcanic island of Pantelleria and was submerged during a massive flood about 9,500 years ago.
During the Last Glacial Maximum, the Adventure Plateau - the shallowest, north-western sector of the Sicilian Channel - was connected to Sicily, forming a broad peninsula that was separated from the North African coastline by about 30 miles. "The gradual increase of the sea level caused the flooding of most of the peninsula, with the exception of some morphological highs that, until at least the Early Holocene, formed an archipelago of several islands separated by stretches of extremely shallow sea," the researchers said. One of those islands was the Pantelleria Vecchia Bank, where the massive monolith was found and where an ancient civilization thrived.
"This discovery reveals the technological innovation and development achieved by the Mesolithic inhabitants in the Sicilian Channel region," said. He noted that the monolith, which weights about 15 tons, was made of a single, large block that required cutting, extraction, transportation and installation. It is not known what the monolith's fuction was or whether it was part of a large complex. "Most likely the structure was functional to the settlement. These people were used to fishing and trading with the neighboring islands," Lodolo said. "It could have been some sort of a lighthouse or an anchoring system, for example," he added.
Edited from Discovery News (6 August 2015)
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