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HomeScienceMysterious Ancient Megastructure Discovered Lurking Beneath The Baltic Sea : ScienceAlert

Mysterious Ancient Megastructure Discovered Lurking Beneath The Baltic Sea : ScienceAlert

Beneath the cold, dark waves of the Baltic Sea lies a hidden piece of history.

In Germany’s Mecklenburg Bay, 21 meters (69 feet) deep, scientists have found an ancient stone megastructure, dating back to the Stone Age, more than 10,000 years ago.

The structure, which spans a length of almost a kilometer (0.62 miles) and is composed of large stones, defies all natural explanation, meaning it appears to have been deliberately built for some purpose, thousands of years before it was swallowed. by sea.

The German research team led by geophysicist Jacob Geersen of Kiel University believes the structure is a wall, perhaps to aid the hunting efforts of the hunter-gatherers who inhabited the region so many years ago.

They have called their discovery Blinkerwall.

“The site represents one of the oldest documented artificial hunting structures on Earth, and is among the largest Stone Age structures known in Europe,” the researchers write in their paper.

“It will be important to understand livelihood strategies, mobility patterns and inspire debates on territorial development in the Western Baltic Sea region.”

Earth’s landmasses have changed significantly over the millennia, shaped by tectonic movements, erosion, and climatic processes such as glaciations and changes in sea level. Many coastal settlements and structures have been washed away by the waves over time, languishing, hidden from view and out of easy access.

However, in recent years, continually developing technologies have begun to reveal the treasures hidden in the seabed. Geersen and his team found Blinkerwall using high-resolution hydroacoustic imaging, an autonomous underwater vehicle, and human divers to explore the bay and map the true extent of the structure.

Underwater morphology of the region, collected using a remote vehicle. The white arrows point to the Blinkerwall. (Geersen et al., PNAS, 2024)

The data collected revealed a long stretch of about 1,670 individual stones, spanning about 971 meters (3,186 feet). These stones tended to be less than one meter (3.3 ft) high and less than 2 meters wide, and stood side by side along the length of the structure.

The consistency and cleanliness, the team says, are unlikely to be the result of natural processes, such as glacial transport or ice thrusting.

Additionally, the structure appears to have been adjacent to an ancient shoreline or swamp. However, it was unlikely that the Blinkerwall would have served as a fish dam, as the researchers could not find any water flow necessary for its proper functioning.

It would also not have served as a coastal defense, since 2 meters is too narrow for the base of a coastal wall. And the construction of a port, they say, is also unlikely, since it is unlikely that the people who inhabited the region more than 10,000 years ago were dedicated to maritime navigation.

“Based on the available information,” the researchers write, “the most plausible functional interpretation of the Blinkerwall is that it was built and used as hunting architecture to drive herds of large ungulates.” At that time it was mainly reindeer or bison.

A section of the Blinkerwall
A section of the Blinkerwall. (Philipp Hoy)

It’s not such a strange idea. Hundreds of colossal stone structures have been found scattered from the lava fields of the Saudi Arabian desert to central Asia; Scientists believe these structures were also used to drive herds of animals, making them easier to hunt.

Although dating such structures is challenging, researchers believe the Blinkerwall was built more than 10,000 years ago, based on the age of surrounding features, and submerged beneath the Baltic Sea about 8,500 years ago.

Since then, it has remained sequestered beneath the waves, in a relatively pristine state that makes it a valuable resource for understanding human history.

“The suggested date and functional interpretation of the Blinkerwall make the feature an exciting discovery, not only because of its age but also because of the potential for understanding the subsistence patterns of early hunter-gatherer communities,” the researchers write.

“The discovery of this type of structure shed light on many aspects of regional hunter-gatherers, especially with regard to their socioeconomic complexity.”

The research has been published in PNAS.

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