Ireland: Submerged prehistoric sites and landscapes

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Westley, Kieran
Woodman, Peter
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Springer International Publishing AG
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Evidence of Ireland's drowned landscapes and settlements presently comprises 50 sites spread across the entire island. These comprise mainly intertidal find spots or small collections of flint artefacts. A handful of fully subtidal sites are known, generally from nearshore regions and consisting, with one exception, of isolated single finds. Evidence of organic remains is also sparse, with the exception of Mesolithic and Neolithic wooden fish traps buried in estuarine sediments under Dublin. The relatively small number of sites is probably due to lack of research as much as taphonomic issues, and thus the current evidence hints at the potential archaeological record which may be found underwater. Such evidence could contribute to knowledge of the coastal adaptations and seafaring abilities of Ireland's earliest inhabitants. Nonetheless, taphonomic considerations, specifically relating to Ireland's history of glaciation, sea-level change and also modern oceanographic conditions likely limit the preservation of submerged landscapes and their associated archaeology. Realistically, the Irish shelf is likely characterised by pockets of preservation, which makes detection and study of submerged landscapes difficult but not impossible. A range of potential routes of investigation are identifiable, including site-scale archaeological survey, landscape-scale seabed mapping, archival research and community engagement.
Submerged prehistoric sites , Intertidal archaeology , Holocene sea-level rise , Submerged forests , Fish traps , Maritime adaptation
Westley, K. and Woodman, P. (2020) Ireland: Submerged prehistoric sites and landscapes' in Bailey G., Galanidou N., Peeters H., Jöns H. and Mennenga M. (eds.) The Archaeology of Europe’s Drowned Landscapes. Coastal Research Library, vol 35. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG, pp. 221-248. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-37367-2_11
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