Things just keep getting older: A new paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science has claimed the discovery of a man-made 12 metre long monolith on the bottom of the sea-floor between the island of Sicily and the Tunisian coastline.
Researchers believe the site was abandoned as it was inundated by the rising sea at the end of the last Ice Age, almost 10,000 years ago (although they seem careful not to suggest when the monolith may have been created…though one of their samples appears to date to around 40,000 B.P.?).
The discovery was made at ‘Adventure Plateau’ – the shallowest part of the entire Sicilian Channel, but a location that saw the most dramatic and intense consequences of changing sea levels at the time. During the Last Glacial Maximum, the area formed a southern peninsula of the Sicilian mainland.
The monolith, found at a water depth of 40 metres, is broken into two parts, and has what appear to be three regular-sized holes bored into it, one which passes right through, and two others part-way through midway along it.
After analysis of various aspects of the discovery, the researchers concluded that the block was made by human hands:
From the data we have here presented and analysed, it can be inferred that the monolith discovered in the PVB is not a natural feature, but man-made. The elements that combine to formulate this interpretation can be listed as follows:
- the monolith has a rather regular shape;
- the monolith has three regular holes of similar diameter: one that crosses it completely on its top, and another two at two sides of the monolith; there are no reasonable known natural processes that may produce these elements;
- the monolith is made from stone other than those which constitute all the neighbouring outcrops, and is quite isolated with respect to them; and
- the lithology and age of the rock that makes up the monolith are similar to those that make up the blocks of the rectilinear ridge closing the embayment.
The presence of the monolith suggests extensive human activity in the PVB. It was cut and extracted as a single stone from the outer rectilinear ridge situated about 300 m to the south, and then transported and possibly erected. From the size of the monolith, we may presume that it weights about 15 t.
The researchers noted that as a consequence of the discovery, “the belief that our ancestors lacked the knowledge, skill and technology to exploit marine resources or make sea crossings, must be progressively abandoned…recent findings of submerged archaeology have definitively removed the idea of “technological primitivism” often attributed to hunter-gatherers coastal settlers.”
Obviously, further investigation and debate will be required before this discovery is confirmed. Will this monolith be consigned to the ‘mystery’ category along with other underwater sites such as Yonaguni and Bimini Road, or will it completely rewrite the history books like Göbekli Tepe?