Europe’s Oldest Megastructure Found in Baltic Sea

Researchers have claimed that a wall discovered beneath the waves off Germany’s Baltic coast might be Europe’s oldest known megastructure built by humans. This structure, named the Blinkerwall, stretches for nearly a kilometre along the seafloor in the Bay of Mecklenburg. It was discovered by chance when scientists operated a multibeam sonar system from a research vessel on a student trip about six miles offshore. The wall is made up of about 1,400 smaller stones that were placed to connect nearly 300 larger boulders, many of which were too heavy for groups of humans to have moved. The submerged wall, which researchers believe was constructed by hunter-gatherers on land next to a lake or marsh, is covered by 21 metres of water and is more than 10,000 years old. Although the wall’s purpose is difficult to determine, scientists suspect it may have been built to serve as a driving lane for hunters in pursuit of herds of reindeer.

“When you chase the animals, they follow these structures, they don’t attempt to jump over them,” said Jacob Geersen at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde, a German port town on the Baltic coast.

“The idea would be to create an artificial bottleneck with a second wall or with the lake shore,” he added.

The researchers have suggested that there may be a second wall buried in the seafloor sediments that ran alongside the Blinkerwall. According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the wall could have forced the animals into the nearby lake, slowing them down and making them an easy target for humans lying in wait in canoes armed with spears or bows and arrows. The size and shape of the 971 metre-long wall, as per Geersen and his colleagues, make it unlikely that it formed naturally, such as through a huge tsunami moving the stones into place or the stones being left behind by a moving glacier. The wall’s angle changes direction when it meets the larger boulders, which suggests that the smaller stones were positioned intentionally to link them up. The wall’s stones are thought to weigh more than 142 tonnes. If the wall was an ancient hunting lane, it was probably built more than 10,000 years ago and submerged by rising sea levels about 8,500 years ago.

“This puts the Blinkerwall into the range of the oldest known examples of hunting architecture in the world and potentially makes it the oldest man-made megastructure in Europe,” the researchers said.

Geersen wants to go back to the site to reconstruct the ancient landscape and search for animal bones and human artifacts, such as hunting projectiles that may be buried in the sediments surrounding the wall.

This news is a creative derivative product from articles published in famous peer-reviewed journals and Govt reports:

1. Geersen, Jacob, et al. “A submerged Stone Age hunting architecture from the Western Baltic Sea.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 121.8 (2024): e2312008121.
2. A. Micallef, S. Krastel A. Savini, Eds., Submarine Geomorphology (Springer International Publishing, 2018)
3. G. A. Díaz-Mendoza et al., Circular structures on the seabed: Differentiating between natural and anthropogenic origins—Examples from the Southwestern Baltic Sea. Front. Earth Sci. 11, 1170787 (2023).
4. W. B. F. Ryan et al., Global multi-resolution topography synthesis. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 10, Q03014 (2009).
5. T. Andrén et al., “The development of the baltic sea basin during the last 130 ka” in The Baltic Sea Basin, Central and Eastern European Development Studies (CEEDES), J. Harff, S. Björck, P. Hoth, Eds. (Springer, 2011), pp. 75–97.

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