The 9,000-Year-Old Underground Megalithic Settlement of Atlit Yam in the Mediterranean Sea

Not far off the coast of the village of Atlit in the Mediterranean Sea, near Haifa in Israel, lies the submerged ruins of the ancient Neolithic site of Atlit Yam.  The prehistoric settlement, which dates back to the 7th millennium BC, has been so well preserved by the sandy seabed that a mysterious stone circle still stands as it was first erected, and dozens of human skeletons lay undisturbed in their graves.  Atlit Yam is one of the oldest and largest sunken settlements ever found and sheds new light on the daily lives of its ancient inhabitants. Today, Atlit Yam lies between 8 – 12 metres beneath sea level and covered an area of 40,000 square meters. The site was first discovered in 1984 by marine archaeologist Ehud Galili, and since then underwater excavations have unearthed numerous houses, stone-built water wells, a series of long unconnected walls, ritual installations, stone-paved areas, a megalithic structure, thousands of flora and faunal remains, dozens of human remains, and numerous artifacts made of stone, bone, wood and flint. At the center of the settlement, seven megaliths (1.0 to 2.1 meters high) weighing up to 600 kilograms are arranged in a stone semicircle.  The stones have cup marks carved into them and were once arranged around a freshwater spring, which suggests that they may have been used for a water ritual.   Another installation consists of three oval stones (1.6 – 1.8 meters), two of which are circumscribed by grooves forming schematic anthropomorphic figures. Top: A diver examines megaliths at Atlit Yam. Bottom: Artist’s reconstruction of stone formation. Image source: Wikimedia  Not far off the coast of the village of Atlit in the Mediterranean Sea, near Haifa in Israel, lies the submerged ruins of the ancient Neolithic site of Atlit Yam.  The prehistoric settlement, which dates back to the 7th millennium BC, has been so well preserved by the sandy seabed that a mysterious stone circle still stands as it was first erected, and dozens of human skeletons lay undisturbed in their graves.  Atlit Yam is one of the oldest and largest sunken settlements ever found and sheds new light on the daily lives of its ancient inhabitants. Today, Atlit Yam lies between 8 – 12 metres beneath sea level and covered an area of 40,000 square meters.  The site was first discovered in 1984 by marine archaeologist Ehud Galili, and since then underwater excavations have unearthed numerous houses, stone-built water wells, a series of long unconnected walls, ritual installations, stone-paved areas, a megalithic structure, thousands of flora and faunal remains, dozens of human remains, and numerous artifacts made of stone, bone, wood and flint. At the center of the settlement, seven megaliths (1.0 to 2.1 meters high) weighing up to 600 kilograms are arranged in a stone semicircle.  The stones have cup marks carved into them and were once arranged around a freshwater spring, which suggests that they may have been used for a water ritual.  Another installation consists of three oval stones (1.6 […]

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