Britain's very own ‘Atlantis’ has been found deep in the North Sea after scientists discovered what they believe to be two Stone Age settlements.
Two stone artifacts that could be over 10,000 years old were recovered on the banks of a submerged ancient river – and this is the first time an archaeological expedition has found such precious prehistoric treasures so far from land and so deep underwater.
It has been known for fishermen to accidentally trawl up prehistoric artifacts in the North Sea but the seabeds that they came from have never been archaeologically assessed.
A team of archaeologists from the UK and Belgium traveled 25 miles north of a village in Norfolk called Blakeney and found the two stone artifacts, which they consider to be highly significant evidence of the settlements, near each other under the sea.
These areas were deliberately targeted as the scientists used their knowledge of what Stone Age settlement sites are like on land.
Not only did they strike archaeological “gold” when they found the artifacts while taking sediment samples, but they also think they’ve worked out why Stone Age humans were so attracted to these areas that were likely swallowed by the sea around 6,000 BC.
The potential settlements could have existed for a long time before they were eventually drowned and could be dated anywhere between 8200 and 7700 BC.
Sediment samples have provided pollen and other environmental evidence that suggest that the now submerged areas would have once been vast landscapes of plants and animals.
This would have been perfect for Mesolithic hunter-gathers in the Stone Age and their settlement location right next to the river would have been great for freshwater and fishing.
There is also evidence of an area nearby that could have provided the prehistoric people with flint for their stone tools.
One of the artifacts found was actually a large hammer stone, which archaeologists think was used for making new tools.
The researchers now think that the two sites they have stumbled upon where being used as stone tool making bases.
The second artifact found on the other side of the ancient river bed was a two-millimeter thick flake of flint that the archaeologists think was cut off when a stone tool was being made.
The next stage of the archaeological excavation will involve an unmanned mini-submarine, which will take a closer look at the sea bed and maybe even use its robotic arms to collect any artifacts that are spotted.
After this stage, divers may be sent down 32 meters to the seabed for a proper excavation.
It is thought that the settlements, like a lot of Stone Age sites, drowned when the North Sea was formed due to lots of ice melting after the Ice Age.
This ongoing excavation will hopefully teach us a lot more about what life was like back then.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.