Palaeoshoreline reconstruction and underwater archaeological potential of Liman Tepe: A long-occupied coastal prehistoric settlement in western Anatolia, Turkey

Nicholas L. Riddick, Joseph I. Boyce, Gillian M. Krezoski, Vasıf Şahoğlu, Hayat Erkanal, İrfan Tuğcu, Yeşim Alkan, Jeremy J. Gabriel, Eduard G. Reinhardt, Beverly N. Goodman-Tchernov

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Rising post-glacial sea levels had a major influence on the prehistoric settlement of the Aegean coastal zone. At Liman Tepe, an important Chalcolithic-Bronze Age coastal settlement on the south coast of the Bay of Izmir, archaeological evidence suggests a Neolithic (ca. 9600-5500 BCE) presence, but no settlement has been discovered on land. Sea levels during the Neolithic period were between 6 and >20 m below present and there is high potential for discovery of submerged prehistoric sites. Marine sediment coring and geophysical investigations (bathymetry, sub-bottom seismic profiling; >600 line-km) were conducted over a 4-km2 inshore area to assess the underwater archaeological potential. Multi-proxy sediment analysis (sedimentary facies, micropalaeontology, micro-XRF geochemistry) was conducted on 20 cores to reconstruct the relative sea level (RSL) history and coastal palaeogeography. Palaeoshoreline positions were estimated by back-stripping of the decompacted sediment thickness from a digital bathymetric model (DBM). The DBM reveals a drowned middle Holocene coastal plain with well-preserved relict river channels, palaeoshorelines and coastal headlands. The inshore stratigraphy consists of shoreface, foreshore and lagoonal deposits overlying terrestrial clay and palaeosols, defining a marine transgressive surface (MTS). The MTS records the inundation of the coastal plain prior to ca. 4000 BCE (transgressive systems tract; TST) and is marked in cores by an increasing abundance of foraminifera and a rise in Ca/Ti. During the Early Neolithic (ca. 6700 BCE), the shoreline was >500 m seaward (RSL ∼ −14 to −16 m) and Karantina Island was a broad coastal headland with a sheltered western embayment. By the Middle Chalcolithic (ca. 4800 BCE), the coastline had transgressed ∼800 m inland of the present shoreline and the Liman Tepe headland was separated from the mainland by a shallow coastal wetland. The maximum transgression (∼1 km inland at ca. 4000 BCE) was followed by a shift to a high-stand systems tract (HST) and rapid coastline progradation by barrier accretion and lagoon development. Palaeogeographic maps identify areas with high underwater archaeological potential: 1) palaeoriver channels and lowland riverine habitats formed during the TST, prior to 4000 BCE, 2) submerged palaeoshorelines and coastal promontories (water depths 10–14 mbsl) with high potential for Neolithic sites, and 3) protected coastal embayments and lagoons representing possible prehistoric anchorage sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107293
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Liman Tepe
  • Palaeoshorelines
  • Prehistoric coastal palaeogeography
  • Relict river channels
  • Submerged landscapes
  • Underwater archaeological potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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