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Stone Age Wall Found Underwater May be Europe’s Oldest Megastructure

3D model of a section of Stone Age wall found at the bottom of Baltic Sea
3D model of a section of Stone Age wall found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Credit: PNAS / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Researchers have found an ancient stone age wall under the sea near Germany’s Baltic coast. This wall might be the oldest massive structure built by humans in Europe. It’s almost a kilometer long and lies on the seafloor of the Bay of Mecklenburg.

Scientists accidentally discovered it while using a special sonar system on a research boat during a student trip approximately six miles (ten kilometers) from the shore.

When they took a closer look at the structure, known as the Blinkerwall, they found roughly 1,400 smaller stones. These stones seemed to be arranged to connect around 300 larger boulders.

Some of these boulders were so heavy it seems unlikely they could have been moved by groups of humans, as reported by The Guardian.

Constructed by hunter-gatherers more than 10,000 years ago

The sunken wall lies beneath twenty-one meters of water. Researchers believe it was built by hunter-gatherers over ten thousand years ago near a lake or marsh.

Although it is difficult to confirm the wall’s exact purpose, scientists speculate it might have been a pathway for hunters chasing herds of reindeer.

Jacob Geersen, from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde, a German coastal town, explains, “When you chase the animals, they follow these structures, they don’t attempt to jump over them.” He suggests the concept involves making a narrow passage with another wall or the lakeshore.

In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers suggest another wall could be hidden in sediment on the seafloor alongside the Blinkerwall.

Alternatively, the wall might have guided animals into the nearby lake, slowing them down and making them easy targets for humans waiting in canoes armed with spears or bows and arrows.

Considering the size and shape of the 971-meter-long wall, Geersen and his team doubt natural events, such as a massive tsunami or a glacier moving stones, could have formed it.

Smaller stones might be positioned intentionally to link them up

The wall’s angle, mostly under one meter tall, shifts when it encounters the larger boulders. This indicates the smaller stones were deliberately placed to connect them. Altogether, the stones of the wall are estimated to weigh over 142 tons.

If the wall served as an ancient hunting path, it likely dates back more than ten thousand years ago. It would have been submerged around 8,500 years ago due to rising sea levels.

“This puts the Blinkerwall into range of the oldest known examples of hunting architecture in the world and potentially makes it the oldest man-made megastructure in Europe,” the researchers said.

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