The oldest stone megastructure in Europe was discovered at the bottom of the Baltic Sea – said a team of researchers. A fragment of a wall dating back over 10,000 years was discovered along the German coast. Its purpose is unknown, although scientists suspect that it could have helped the then inhabitants of the Baltic region in… obtaining food.
Thousands of years ago, the landscape of northern Europe looked completely different than it does today. In some periods, the straits connecting the Baltic Sea with the Atlantic Ocean were completely devoid of water, and the former coast was located far from the current shore. One of the relics of these times is a structure noticed in the Baltic Sea by German researchers. Their discovery was described in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.
As the authors described, the discovery occurred by accident. Fragments of the structure were spotted in 2021 during a scientific and educational cruise on the Bay of Mecklenburg. A closer inspection of the structure revealed that it was a 971-meter-long, one-meter-high wall composed of over 1,600 stones of various sizes. The way in which the individual rocks were placed excludes the natural origin of the structure. Scientists estimate the total weight of the structure at 142 tons.
The wall, called Blinkerwall by researchers, dates back to the Stone Age, after the end of the last Ice Age. Scientists estimate that it was created about 11-12 thousand years ago, when the area of today’s Mecklenburg Bay was not yet under the waters of the Baltic Sea.
– During this period, there were probably less than 5,000 people living in the entire northern Europe – said the lead author of the analysis, Jacob Geersen from the University of Kiel.
Analyzes suggest that the structure was built by hunter-gatherer groups living in these areas. It was probably built on the shore of a no longer existing lake or swamp. After about 1,500 years of existence, it was flooded with salty sea waters, thanks to which it survived in perfect condition 21 meters under the sea surface.
Although the purpose of the wall is difficult to determine, experts suspect that it could have helped hunters hunt reindeer – the main source of food for the inhabitants of northern Europe at that time.
– The wall was probably used to force animals to escape between the wall and the lake shore, or perhaps even into the lake itself. There, Stone Age hunters could hunt them more easily, Geersen explained.
It may be the oldest in Europe
Scientists emphasized that Blinkerwall may be one of the oldest examples of hunting architecture in the world and the oldest known man-made megastructure in Europe. As they added, it is extremely rare for structures of this type to have survived to this day in the densely populated Central European subcontinent. Researchers intend to visit the discovery site again to reconstruct the ancient landscape and look for items that will help better understand the life of the region’s inhabitants at that time.
Main photo source: Philipp Hoy, University of Rostock/Jens Auer, LAKD MV