Scientists discover clues pointing to mysterious undersea civilization

"Small changes in the magnetic field can indicate changes in the landscape, such as peat-forming areas and sediment."
Nergis Firtina

Wikimedia Commons  

A new study by the University of Bradford demonstrates that magnetic fields may hold the key to comprehending buried civilizations. With the rise of North Sea wind farms, the race is on to collaborate with developers to put together facts about Doggerland ahead of development.

Ben Urmston, a Ph.D. student, will analyze magnetometry data to look for magnetic field anomalies that might point to the presence of archaeological features without the need for excavation, as per the release.

“Small changes in the magnetic field can indicate changes in the landscape, such as peat-forming areas and sediments, or where erosion has occurred, for example, in river channels," he said.

"As the area we are studying used to be above sea level, there's a small chance this analysis could even reveal evidence for hunter-gatherer activity. That would be the pinnacle. We might also discover the presence of middens, which are rubbish dumps that consist of animal bone, mollusk shells, and other biological material, that can tell us a lot about how people lived,” he added.

What is Doggerland?

Doggerland was a piece of land that connected continental Europe to Britain but is now covered by the North Sea. A rise in sea levels circa 6500–6200 BCE caused it to be submerged. The Dogger Littora is the name of the flooded area.

Towards the end of the last ice age, due to global warming, Doggerland was one of the most resource-rich and ecologically dynamic regions during the later Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods (c.20,000–4,000 BC), was submerged under the water.

“If we detect features that could indicate a midden, for example, we can then target that area and take a sample of the seabed. We can send the organic matter for carbon dating, which can usually tell within a decade or two when that was laid down," Urmston explained.

Collecting data

Companies attempting to extract oil, gas, and minerals from the seabed, as well as a growing number of offshore wind farm businesses, collect magnetic data to understand the terrain before construction.

Exploration usually searches for shipwrecks and unexploded bombs and armaments from previous conflicts. To investigate the magnetic fields on the seabed, magnetometers are devices that resemble torpedoes and are dragged through the water by cables attached to survey vessels.

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