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Settlement from over 8000 years – amazing discovery in Ohrid Lake in Albania

Published: August 12, 2023 - 16:13
Updated: August 12, 2023 - 16:13
Settlement from over 8000 years – amazing discovery in Ohrid Lake in Albania

In the waters of Ohrid Lake in Albania, scientists have discovered the oldest known settlement in Europe, which they estimated to be over 8,000 years old.

Swiss media have reported an extremely interesting discovery by underwater archaeologists from the University of Bern. Researchers excavating an underwater site in Ohrid Lake, which is located on the border between Albania and Northern Macedonia, reported that the remains of a human habitat found there are more than 8,000 years old and are the oldest such find in Europe.

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Excavations in Ohrid Lake
Underwater archaeologist during excavations Fot. Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen

Excavations in Ohrid Lake

Archaeologists from the Swiss university for two years explored the site located on the shore of a lake , near the Albanian village of Lin. During that time, a team of researchers led by Professor Albert Hafner, excavated, among other things, wooden logs from the bottom, on the basis of which the age of the habitat was determined.


Lake Ohrid is Europe’s oldest lake. It is the birthplace of agriculture and animal husbandry in this region, serving as the foundation for “the great cultural transformation in Europe”. This find is not only significant for this region but for the entire southeastern Europe,” said Albert Hafner, Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Bern.

The results of the examination proved to be surprising, as the specialists determined the age of the surveyed elements to be 5800 to 5900 BC. The investigated settlement is therefore about 8,000 years old and is roughly 2,000 years older than the oldest site of its kind, which was found at a lake in Switzerland. Without doubt, this is a sensational discovery that is of extraordinary scientific value.

Underwater archaeologist excavating site in Ohrid Lake
Underwater archaeologist excavating site in Ohrid Lake Fot. Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen

In the early 1970s, the water level of Lake Ohrid significantly dropped, making this submerged site visible,” recounts Adrian Anastasi from the Albanian Institute of Archaeology in Tirana.

It was he who, with his knowledge of some 500 well-studied lakeside settlement sites in Switzerland, advocated cooperation with the University of Bern. Underwater excavations are quite a challenge and require adequate knowledge and preparation. The help of experienced researchers was therefore invaluable.

There is an abundance of shoreline vegetation. You have to navigate through dense reed beds to reach the dive site. Underwater excavations raise sediment and visibility deteriorates significantly. It is therefore necessary to create an artificial current underwater using pipes and compressed air,” said archaeologist and scientific diver Marie-Claire Ries.

Lake Ohrid in Albania
The excavations were conducted by underwater archaeologists from the University of Bern Fot. Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen

The exact age of the site

The determination that the site in Ohrid Lake is nearly 8,000 years old is not enough for scientists. This is the age determined by the radiocarbon method, which is quite inaccurate. Therefore, the researchers want to determine the age with the accuracy of a decade or even a year. This is possible using dendrochronology, which involves the study of wooden elements.

The ultimate goal of the Ohrid Lake excavations is to determine when and how agriculture and animal husbandry originated in the region, as well as how these practices spread from southern Europe to Switzerland.

Fot. Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen

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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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