Atlit-Yam: A prehistoric site on the sea floor off the Israeli coast

Ehud Galili, Mina Weinstein-Evron, Israel Hershkovitz, Avi Gopher, Mordecai Kislev, Omri Lernau, Liora Kolska-Horwitz, Hanan Lernauf

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    135 Scopus citations


    Atlit-Yam, a settlement 400 m off the Israeli shore, is the largest (60,000 sq m) and most deeply submerged (8-12 m bsl) prehistoric settlement ever uncovered along the Mediterranean coast. The architecture of the dwellings, the lithic tool assemblages, and radiocarbon dating indicate habitation during the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) period, ca. 81007500 b.p. Floral and faunal remains suggest that the village economy was complex, based on several different food resources acquired through hunting, incipient herding, fishing, and farming. These probably permitted year-round occupation. More importantly, however, Atlit-Yam is among the earliest communities to reveal evidence of maritime activity. From this site, new insights into maritime pursuits and the domestication of animals and plants, as well as early evidence for exploitation of water tables, the construction of wells in prehistoric times, and sea level changes will be forthcoming. Further study of Atlit-Yam may also contribute to our understanding of the process of colonization of the Mediterranean islands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)133-157
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jan 1993

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    We wish to express our appreciation to the National Geographic Research Foundation; the CARE Archaeological Foundation; the Council of Research and Development; and Joan and Dick Scheuer for their financial support of the underwater excavation; to the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation and the CARE Archaeological Foundation for supporting the skeletal study; to the Israel Antiquities Authority; to the Center for Maritime Studies and the Zinman Institute of Archaeology of Haifa University; to the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University for technical assistance; to the Stekelis Prehistoric Museum of Haifa; to Israel Carmi of the Weizmann Institute, J. O. Vogel of Pretoria U niver-sity, and Robert Stuckenrath of the University of Pittsburgh Radiocarbon Laboratory for 14C dating; to Nili Lipschitz for wood fragment identification; to Steve Breit-


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