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North Sea ArchaeologiesA Maritime Biography, 10,000 BC - AD 1500$
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Robert Van de Noort

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199566204.001.0001

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The sea as a dynamic and hybrid landscape

The sea as a dynamic and hybrid landscape

3 The sea as a dynamic and hybrid landscape
North Sea Archaeologies

Robert Van de Noort

Oxford University Press

Since the last glacial maximum, some 22,000 years ago, the North Sea basin has undergone many transformational changes. Largely covered by ice at the beginning of the period, it became successively an arctic-like tundra, a ‘park-like’ landscape of extended grassland with shrubs and trees, a tundra again, and a plain with light woodland cover that was submerged eventually by the expanding North Sea (Coles 1998: 69–75). As the North Sea rose, over the last 5,000 years, to within a few metres of its current level, the interior of the sea did not alter significantly apart from changes in tidal patterns and depth. But on the periphery of the North Sea basin, the slighter sea-level changes added to the effects of marine and alluvial sedimentation and erosion and produced, regionally, periods of marine transgression—when the influence of the sea moved landwards—and marine regression, resulting in the opposite effect. The North Sea, throughout its history, has been the dynamic landscape par excellence. The history of research into the North Sea basin goes back to the 19th century, and will be discussed further below, but it was Bryony Coles’ article ‘Doggerland: a speculative survey’ (1998), which first raised the profile of the Late-glacial and early Holocene archaeology of the North Sea and inspired many of the current research activities, especially those relating to the southern North Sea basin. The renewed interest in the Mesolithic and Neolithic archaeology of the North Sea has made some significant advances, and holds the promise of even greater returns once the high-resolution reconstructions of the North Sea Plain are integrated with the archaeological finds. A series of publications has recently presented new archaeological sites. New finds from trawler fishing along the various banks in the North Sea, and from the margins (e.g. Flemming 2004; Waddington and Pedersen 2007), as well as the use of SCUBA technology (e.g. in Fisher 1995), will be discussed below. This chapter offers brief overviews of the history of North Sea research, the creation of the North Sea, and the archaeological evidence of human activity in the period from about 10,000 to 2000 cal bc.

Keywords:   Ahrensburg, Baltic Sea, Calais, Doggerland, Europoort, Flag Fen, Galta peninsula, Hoge Vaart, Jutland, Langdon Bay

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