A great wall made by Stone Age hunters

The cold waters of the Baltic Sea cover one of the few surviving Stone Age structures in Europe. On the banks Mecklenburg, In Germany, at a depth of about 21 meters and about a kilometer long, an unusual construction was discovered by groups of… Hunter-gatherers arose more than 10,000 years ago. He's been summoned Blinkerwal.

It is a wall about one meter high, consisting of 1,673 stone Placed side by side along 971 metres At the bottom of the sea.

A study published this week Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesA team of German archaeologists and researchers from the Universities of Kiel and Rostock have determined that this structure was man-made. He would serve for hunting. “Direct reindeer to areas where they can be killed more easily,” they concluded.

Geophysicist jacob gersen, From Kiel University, who is leading the research team, says that the great importance of this discovery lies in that One of the few remains that can be studied from this period in Europe:

“It represents one of the oldest documented man-made hunting structures on Earth, and is among the largest Stone Age structures known in Europe.”

The fact that there is Preserved below sea level allows it to be studied“These structures would not typically exist in the densely populated Central European subcontinent,” explains Jersen. Similar gigantic Stone Age structures have been discovered elsewhere in the world, but almost nowhere in Europe.

It sparks research Several hypotheses about the formation of the structure and its usefulness of the human communities that inhabited the region.

Blinkerwall means “intermittent wall”

If the sea preserves the structure, it also makes it difficult to study. Blinkerwall means blinking wall, and it takes up a lot of space. For this reason, it was difficult to detect it until technological tools became available We see that the stones formed a group.

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The structure is located in Mecklenburg Bay, which originated in the Weichselian Ice Age. It is an area known for a large amount of Submerged archaeological sites. But until nearly two and a half years ago, in September 2021, it was not discovered that it was a large structure, thanks to a high-resolution multibeam echo sounder.

It was necessary to study it at the global level A cross-sectional approach between archaeology and marine geosciences. The researchers used the latest hydrographic and geophysical tools and treatments, in addition to archaeological diving techniques. Autonomous underwater vehicles have been used to collect hydroacoustic data, sediment samples, and optical images with centimeter resolution.

The arrangement of the stones suggests this to archaeologists It is not a natural formation.

The wall was used for hunting animals (Michael Grabowski)

A structure that has no natural origin

First, the researchers He ruled out that the row of stones was the result of glacial drift, as they will be arranged in hills and ridges. Nor would natural action explain the truth of this be present The largest and heaviest stones are at the edges of the wall and in the middle.

Among more than 1600 stones, there are 288 Heaviest: The largest, about 11,400 kilos, located in the central section. The next three weigh approx 2000, 2500 and 5700 kilometersTwo of them are located at either end of the wall. In general, the 10 heaviest stones indicate a change in design direction, as they are difficult or almost impossible to move.

In the middle, the stones that connect the larger stones are smaller. There are approximately 1,400 of them, and they all weigh less than 100 kilograms and are therefore more manageable, which is Which reinforces the hypothesis that the wall is a huge human construction, Jacob Gersen explained.

“Our investigations indicate that the natural origin of the underwater stone wall is not very likely. The systematic arrangement of many small stones connecting large, immovable boulders does not tell us that.”

There are no underwater cables or stone fishing

In the studio too We rule out the possibility that it was formed in the modern era. For example, To put Submarine cables or pipelines That it was possible that they would have pulled out the stones and arranged them in the sea sun, which is unlikely.

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The other unlikely option is that it originated from Collect stonesIt is an industry that emerged during the eighteenth century.

In the rock-poor area for construction, ice stones, collected from the Baltic Sea coast, have been used since the end of the last millennium. This gave rise to a career Stone hunter. The fact that these “fishermen” could not work at depths of more than 6 meters suggests that they were responsible for the construction of Blenkerwal.

Built more than 10,000 years ago

Study places building wall During the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic periodThat means about 10,000 years ago.

One explanation for this dating is geological The area where the wall is located was above sea level in the mid-Holocene In three periods: between 12,800 years, 11,700 and 9,500 years, and remained Submerged until now about 8,500 years ago.

These data exclude that the builders were part of an agricultural community.

“It seems likely that hunter-gatherers in the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic built a structure that did not need repairs throughout the year and could be used immediately when needed.”

The study chooses this hypothesis in view of this After the retreat of the Weichselian ice sheet There was an estimated number From 1,281 people, hunter gatherers, Which toured the area In groups of 40 or 45 people.

“The construction of a one-kilometre-long stone wall would demonstrate the great importance of this structure to the city Group survival. In addition, it raises the question of whether the entire structure It was built all at once or in several stages“, says the study, which also suggests a possibility Collaboration between groups For the common good.

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Hunting runner

But what was the benefit to all the groups living in the area? Researchers find it unlikely that Blinkerwall served as… Stone dam for fishingSince “adequate water flow is required, they are usually built in rivers or coastal areas with strong tides.”

They also consider Blinkerwall too young to be him Coastal protection wall base. They also rule out being part of itharbor Because at that time “the ships had not yet been documented.”

“The most plausible functional explanation for the Blinkerwall is that it was built and used as hunting equipment to drive herds of large ungulates such as Eurasian reindeer or bison” Abundant in cold regions such as the western Baltic Sea in the Paleolithic.

For archaeologists, the Blinkerwall is “an exciting discovery, not only because of its age, but also because of the potential to understand the subsistence patterns of early hunter-gatherer societies around the Baltic Sea.”

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