For most part of human prehistory, global sea level was lower than today. After the sea level rise following the last ice age peak, it stabilized at present level some 4000 years ago. During the Neolithic period, some 10,000 years ago, the Carmel coastal plain was wider and the coastline was some 10 km to the west. Consequently coastal Neolithic settlements are now inundated, accessible only to marine archaeologists.
Several such settlements were discovered and excavated off the Carmel coast. The material culture, social organization, symbolic life and subsistence of the submerged sites and their place in the evolution of the Mediterranean coastal communities were studied. The coastal environment facilitated the exploitation of marine resources as well as animal husbandry and agriculture.
The Levant coast is close to the area where domestication of animal and plants started. The first contacts between agriculturists and fishermen took place there and created the first Mediterranean fishing villages, combining fishing, agriculture and herding.
Submerged settlement from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (c. 9,200 YBP) and the Late Pottery Neolithic period (c. 7,000 YBP) were recovered along that coast. The sites are in excellent, albeit fragile state of preservation and are in danger from erosion and human intervention.
The research was undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University. It was encouraged by the Cost Action TD0902 project (SPLASHCOS of the European Union – Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf).