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Divers uncover Stone Age road in Croatia

Excavating the roadway (University of Kadar)
Excavating the roadway (University of Kadar)

Underwater archaeologists in Croatia have been surprised to find what they say is a 7,000-year-old roadway beneath the Adriatic Sea, leading off the island of Korcula.

The scuba divers were exploring a neolithic settlement at Soline, submerged at a depth of around 4m at the eastern end of the island, when they discovered the road beneath a layer of sediment. 

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They say that the 4m-wide causeway had been built on carefully stacked stone slabs, and would have connected the settlement, which was set on an artificially created island, with Korcula.

Stone Age site at Soline (University of Kadar)
The Soline settlement site (University of Kadar)

Radiocarbon dating of timbers found preserved in the sediment last year has already dated the settlement to around 4,900 BC. The Stone Age people who lived there represented what has become known as the Hvar culture, characterised by distinctive pottery and ornaments. The name given to these subsistence farmers derives from the island of Hvar to the north of Korcula.

The research is being carried out by a team from the University of Zadar led by Prof Mata Parica, in co-operation with several Croatian museums and the Lumbarda Blue dive-centre.

Sea-level when the island and roadway were built is assumed to have been between 4.6 and 5m, Prof Parica told Divernet. “Two scenarios are possible for why the island was built: either safety reasons, or a conscious demonstration of construction technology, intervention in space and the like.”

Underwater archaeology team (University of Kadar)
The underwater archaeology team (University of Kadar)
Stone Age site at Gradina Bay (University of Kadar)
The Gradina Bay site (University of Kadar)

Meanwhile another underwater archaeological breakthrough is reported to have occurred at the western end of 47km-long Korcula Island. The same university team carried out a survey in the middle of Gradina Bay near Vela Luka after their head of research Igor Borzic had spotted a series of ”strange structures” in the sea there. 

They revealed on 7 May that what they discovered were remains of an almost identical settlement to the one at Soline, again at a depth of 4-5m. Neolithic artefacts such as flint blades, stone axes and fragments of millstones were among their initial finds.

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