LONDON (Reuters) - Archaeologists have stumbled across the first underwater evidence of Stone Age settlements in Britain.
A team from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England say they found flint artifacts including tools and arrowheads off the coast near Tynemouth during a training session to prepare them for dive searches elsewhere.
They say the items pinpoint two sites dating as far back as 10,000 years ago which would once have been on dry land but were gradually submerged as sea levels rose after the end of the last Ice Age. Dr. Penny Spikins, the archaeologist leading the team, said she had originally applied for funding to search for this type of site in Scotland and had been amazed to find the items lying undisturbed on the sea bed near such a built-up area.
"It was a totally stunning find really because although we'd prepared ourselves to be looking for these type of sites... we hadn't really started the project when we already came across these types of artifacts," she told Reuters.
"These sites are set to provide us with a unique opportunity to begin to understand early Mesolithic coastal occupation," Spikins said.
According to the team, one site dates back to the late Mesolithic period 8,500 to 5,000 years ago while the other, found further out to sea, is thought to be early Mesolithic -- 8,500 to 10,000 years ago.
Mesolithic people were hunter-gatherers and lived in the Middle Stone Age which began around 10,000 years ago. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030911/sc_nm/britain_stoneage_dc_1