A 7,000-year-old road that may have connected an ancient Hvar culture settlement to the now-isolated island of Korčula has been discovered by archaeologists off the southern Croatian coast. The remnants of this road were found at the sunken Neolithic site of Soline, buried under layers of sea mud.
The ancient site of Soline was once an artificial island and was only recently discovered in 2021 by archaeologist Mate Parica of the University of Zadar in Croatia.
Parica was studying satellite images of the water area around Korčula when he saw something that appeared to be man-made on the ocean floor. Together with a colleague, he dove to investigate and uncovered this exciting find.
The archaeologists also discovered stone walls, which could have been a part of an old village or town. The walls were found at a depth of 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) below the surface of the sea. The place where these walls were built was cut off from the rest of the island by a small strip of land.
Archaeologist Mate Parica from the University of Zadar in Croatia mentioned in an interview with Reuters in 2021 that this area is protected from big waves because of the islands that surround it. This has helped in keeping the site safe from natural harm and, thus, preserving it.
7,000-year-old road on the bottom of Mediterranean sea connected the islands
The 7,000-year-old road is about 4 meters (13 feet) wide and is made of stacked stone slabs. It is covered in mud, which is not surprising given its location.
The road was likely built by the Neolithic Hvar people, who once lived in the eastern Adriatic, according to archaeologists.
Divers found a road under the Mediterranean Sea that is 7,000 years old. While humans have walked the Earth, the sea has risen at least 350 feet. This road is only under 15 FEET of water. What else hasn't been discovered? pic.twitter.com/gfE4nmuPy2
— NPC detector (@pushfix) May 10, 2023
This race is also believed to have built the submerged Soline settlement, which was connected to the islands by the road. The settlement is estimated to date back to about 4,900 BCE based on radiocarbon analysis of preserved wood.
The University of Zadar, which was involved in the discovery, said in a statement on Facebook that people walked on this road almost 7,000 years ago.
The discovery was the result of collaboration among experts from several museums and the University of Zadar, along with the help of photographers and divers.
Discovery of a new underwater settlement
The same research team found another underwater settlement on the other side of the island that is similar to Soline and contains some Stone Age artifacts.
Archaeologist Igor Borzić of the University of Zadar noticed interesting structures under the bay’s waters, leading the team to explore the Soline site.
To their surprise, they discovered an almost identical settlement submerged at a depth of 4 to 5 meters, which also contained Neolithic artifacts like stone axes and fragments of sacrifice.