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Stone Age site surfaces after 8000 years

Excavations of an underwater Stone Age archaeological settlement dating back 8000 years are taking place at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton this week (30 July - 3 August 2007).

Maritime archaeologists from the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA) have been working at the site just off the Isle of Wight coast. Divers working at depths of 11 metres have raised sections of the seabed, which have been brought to the NOCS laboratories for excavation.

Garry Momber, Director of HWTMA said: 'This is a site of international importance as it reveals a time before the English Channel existed when Europe and Britain were linked. Earlier excavations have produced flint tools, pristine 8,000-year-old organic material such as acorns, charcoal and worked pieces of wood showing evidence of extensive human activity. This is the only site of its kind in Britain and is extremely important to our understanding of our Stone Age ancestors from the lesser-known Mesolithic period.

'At first we had no idea of the size of this site, but now we are finding evidence of hearths and ovens so it appears to be an extensive settlement. We are hoping that this excavation will reveal more artefacts and clues to life in the Stone Age.'

The team of archaeologists will take the sections to the NOCS laboratories where they will painstakingly excavate through the layers of sediment revealing materials that have lain unseen beneath the seabed for over 8000 years. Garry Momber has recruited University of Southampton students to help with the work.

Sarah Watts | alfa
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