A Stone Age wall was found at the bottom of the Baltic
A wall found in the Baltic Sea may represent one of the oldest known hunting structures used in the Stone Age and could change ideas about how hunter-gatherers lived around 11,000 years ago.
Researchers at the University of Kiel in Germany first came across a surprising row of rocks located about 21 meters underwater during a marine geophysical survey on the bottom of the Mecklenburg Bight in Germany.
The discovery, made in the fall of 2021 on board the research vessel RV Alkor, revealed a wall of 1,670 stones stretching more than 1 kilometer. The stones connecting several large boulders were almost perfectly aligned, making it unlikely that nature formed this structure.
After the researchers reported their discovery to the State Office for Culture and Monument Protection of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, an investigation began to determine what the structure could be and how it ended up at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Dive teams and an autonomous underwater vehicle were deployed to study the site.
The team determined that the wall was likely built by Stone Age communities for deer hunting more than 10,000 years ago.
The study describing the structure was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The wall was probably built over 10,000 years ago along the shoreline of a lake or swamp. At that time, there were many stones left by glaciers in the area.
But studying and dating underwater structures is incredibly difficult, so the research team had to analyze how the region developed to determine the approximate age of the wall. They collected sediment samples, created a 3D model of the wall, and virtually reconstructed the landscape of where it was originally built.
According to the study authors, sea levels have risen significantly since the end of the last ice age about 8,500 years ago, which would have led to the flooding of the wall and much of the landscape.
But almost 11,000 years ago everything was different.
“At that time the entire population of Northern Europe was probably less than 5,000 people. One of their main food sources was herds of reindeer that migrated seasonally through the sparse vegetation of the post-glacial landscape,” study co-author Dr. Marcel Bradtmöller, a researcher in prehistory and early history at the University of Rostock in Germany, said in a statement. The wall was probably used to force the deer into the narrow space between the adjacent lakeshore and the wall, or even into the lake, where Stone Age hunters could more easily kill them with their weapons.