Microarchaeological approach to underwater stratigraphy of submerged settlements: A case study of Atlit-Yam Pre-Pottery Neolithic site, off the Carmel Coast, Israel

Issac Ogloblin Ramirez, Elle Grono, Roni Zuckerman-Cooper, Dafna Langgut, Ehud Galili, David E. Friesem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The investigation of submerged archaeological sites faces numerous logistical challenges in the recovery of stratigraphic sequences and, as a result, is often restricted to surface deposits limiting the application of geoarchaeology. This paper outlines a new integrated field and microanalytical methodological protocol to investigate deep stratigraphic sequences (up to 2 m) within the submerged Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) site of Atlit-Yam (9267–7970 cal. B.P. [calibrated years before the present]). A new coring method for the extraction of deep underwater stratigraphy was developed to extract three cores: two between architectural remains within the site and one outside the site. The cores were analysed using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, phytolith and pollen analysis and archaeological micromorphology to detect anthropogenic signals and undertake paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Our results indicate anthropogenic evidence at 95 cm depth based on the presence of heat-altered sediments, high phytolith concentrations and micromorphological observations of archaeological remains. Radiocarbon analysis indicates the oldest anthropogenic layers date to the Mid Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) and Late PPNB (9859–9323 cal. B.P.), bearing implications for reassessing the emergence of the first coastal Neolithic villages in the Mediterranean. Our integrated field and multiproxy micro-geoarchaeological protocol offers a new approach to detecting and studying submerged archaeological sites worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the Nahshon team for their assistance during fieldwork and for the advice and support of A. Yurman and M. Bachar from the Recanati Institute for Marine Studies, University of Haifa. Micro‐geoarchaeological analyses were completed at the Laboratory of Environmental Micro‐History and the Laboratory for Sedimentary Archaeology at the University of Haifa. The authors sincerely thank Inbar Friedman from the Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Ancient Environments, Tel Aviv University, for assistance with the preparation of pollen samples. This research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC, BEFOREtheFLOOD ID: 101039271). Views and opinions expressed are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. Underwater coring activities were carried out under the permit of the Israel Antiquity Authority granted to David Friesem and Ehud Galili.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Geoarchaeology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • palynology
  • phytoliths
  • site formation processes
  • submerged prehistory
  • underwater archaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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