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Archaeologists examined a submerged settlement off the coast of Israel

Archaeologists from the University of California, San Diego, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Haifa, have conducted a combined physical and virtual excavation of a Neolithic settlement submerged off the coast of Israel. The expedition and the research carried out during it made it possible to learn some of the secrets about prehistoric
Published: December 28, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:46
Archaeologists examined a submerged settlement off the coast of Israel

Archaeologists from the University of California, San Diego, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Haifa, have conducted a combined physical and virtual excavation of a Neolithic settlement submerged off the coast of Israel.

The expedition and the research carried out during it made it possible to learn some of the secrets about prehistoric social evolution and climatic and environmental changes over 8,000 years ago.

exploration of flooded ruins
Underwater archaeologists from the University Of Haifa examine the ruins of the wall photo by Amir Yurman University Of Haifa

Times are strange and they have not gone unnoticed in the world of underwater archaeology either. In keeping with the rules of social distance, a team of researchers from UC San Diego used remote technology developed at the Qualcomm Institute to virtually join their Israeli colleagues in a three-week excavation.

We had planned to be in the field with Assaf Yasur-Landau and his team in October, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were unable to travel. The challenge was to find a way for our UC San Diego team to work with our Israeli colleagues in a meaningful and useful way while stuck in Southern California,” said Thomas Levy, director of the Center for Cyber Archaeology

The team is currently in the process of using QI’s state-of-the-art visualisation tools to analyse new artefacts and highly detailed 3D maps, as well as taking sediment samples to investigate the ancient site.

Divers led by Yasur-Landau from the University of Haifa’s Institute of Marine Studies conducted excavations at the site 30km south of Haifa. The team discovered the remains of walls, as well as artefacts such as flint tools and shards of early pottery, and took photogrammetric images and video documentation needed to create a detailed 3D map.

printing a model of the found artefact
Scott Mcavoy, media specialist at the Geisel Library, prints a 3D model of a Neolithic flint tool found at the HaBonim excavation site photo by Hector Bracho Qualcomm Institute

Using SunCAVE, the institute’s virtual reality centre with the highest resolution in the country, scientists are trying to create a 3D visualisation of the site they are investigating. All this to enable archaeologists to continue their exploration.

By using such solutions, San Diego scientists will be able to explore a prehistoric site at any time without leaving the gates of their university. This promises to be a pioneering project that could be a breakthrough and pave new paths for underwater archaeologists to conduct research.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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