The Knowledge Foundation
Blekinge Museum, Karlskrona
Deep Sea Productions
In 2011, MARIS launched a new research area. The goal is to conduct archaeological surveys, examine and discuss the sunken landscapes of the early Holocene in the southern Baltic Sea. The project concentrates on the postglacial river mouth of Verkeån, south-east Scania and the Blekinge archipelago. Another interest is the unknown archaeological potential of the more distant shallow banks of the southern Baltic, such as Södra Midsjöbanken and Kriegers Flak. The aim is to unite archaeology and several other landscape disciplines from geology, geography and biology. A tentative initial study was launched by Blekinge Museum, Karlskrona, in 2010, opening up a more research-oriented phase. During 2011, Björn Nilsson and Arne Sjöström designed a research programme, a funding plan and a network of scholars, and by the end of the year MARIS, Marin Mätteknik (MMT) and Deep Sea Productions had received grants from the Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen).
The archaeological focus for the next few years (2012-2014) is the early Mesolithic Yoldia Sea and Ancylus Lake interval, some 11 500-9 500 years BP, though earlier and subsequent times will also be important. The Verkeå study builds on 30 years of research and Arne Sjöström's exploratory dives in the last three years. The Blekinge study is, from an archaeological point of view, a fairly new research field. Geologically, Blekinge is one of the most surveyed places in the Baltic area.
As well as more empirical research, the programme will cover theoretical discussions concerning landscape reconstruction and surveying methodology. An underlying question is how the lost landscapes of the early Mesolithic affect Mesolithic research through their absence, and in what increased knowledge of these may result. The cooperation with MMT and Deep Sea Productions involves methodological development and an emphasis on public outreach and media efforts.
The team consists of several MARIS researchers. Björn Nilsson is the scientific head of project and is responsible for the Blekinge explorations. Arne Sjöström is responsible for the Verkeå study and the submerged fieldwork. Oscar Törnquist has worked with geographical reconstruction and predictive modelling.
Fieldwork and preliminary results
Some fieldwork is planned for 2012. The first seafloor mappings in the Blekinge archipelago were undertaken at the end of May and the results will be released during summer. Fieldwork is conducted as collaboration between the Landscapes Lost project and Martin Jakobsson, Professor in Marine Geology and Geophysics, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, and is partly financed by Blekinge County Administrative Board.
The investigations at Verkeån have so far yielded finds of high interest. No excavations have yet been undertaken, but radiocarbon analyses of a hazel pole – the remnants of a Stone Age fish trap – date the constructions in the former river to 9,000 BP, which makes them the oldest known in the world.