Submerged Necropolis

We have already explained ( here: paleohydrography of Lampedusa) how important is to investigate below the current sea level in order to look for remains of prehistoric Lampedusa due to the change in the sea level over the last 10 thousands years. Approximately 8,000 years ago the sea level around Lampedusa was more or less 15 meters lower than today therefore most of the remains of the early prehistoric colonization of Lampedusa are now submerged.

Bathymetry map Sicily channel 8000 BP

From the findings of the neolithic hut in "Cala Pisana" area we know that the Stentinello people visited and lived in Lampedusa around the end of the sixth millenium BC. Without sistematic studies and research it is believed that the frequentation of Lampedusa by the Stentinello people was sporadic, however we believe that this is not the case: the prehistory of Lampedusa is a broader phenomenon that deserve more attention and study. In the pages of this blog we tried to provide the readers with some evidence that Lampedusa was an important prehistoric center in the Mediterranean sea located in the heart of the early migration routes and trades.
Here, in this particular article, we would like to present additional evidence for our theory and to show how, below the sea, it is still possible to find traces of the early Lampedusa colonization at least 8,000 years old.
Below we will show (for the first time: it was discovered by my father Pietro Ratti) some pictures taken 7/8 meters below the sea in Lampedusa, not distant from  the  neolithic hut in "Cala Pisana" area. The submerged site of these pictures is most likely what is left of a prehistoric necropolis with round pits for inhumation: there are not pottery sherds or other manufacts left below the sea to be seen near the pits due to the action/erosion of the water over the course of 8 thousands years,  dating therefore is a tentative exercise based on remains that can be found on earth in a site with prehistoric huts very close to the submerged necropolis and using the sea level tables for the last 10,000 years.  (The exact location of these remains will not be disclosed here to protect its integrity because the "Soprintendenza del Mare" of Sicily has not yet explored the site although it has been informed). It is interesting to note that some megalithic structures on the current shoreline next to the submerged necropolis may have be related to some kind of prehistoric funeral ritual.  Definitely a site worth of additional research and studies. 
From the pictures below it can be clearly seen how the lower levels of the necropolis could be  reach with regular stairs cut into the rocks that could be used to bury the bodies in the lower round pits. 

Planimetry of a pit

Planimetry of a pit with description 

Details of stairs cut into the rock
Details of stairs cut into the rock

Details of stairs cut into the rock

Details of stairs cut into the rock

Below I will show another two submerged rock cut tombs seen from the surface of the sea: these tombs are more than  3 or 4 meter longs and I had to take several shoots and attach them to get a full picture.

Another large rock cut tomb

A third large submerged rock cut tomb

A fourth huge (10+ meters long) submerged rock cut tomb

Below some neolithic tools recovered under water around the tombs/pits.

Neolithic tools from the submerged necropolis 

New stone tools and prehistoric stone art have been found in this site during the summer 2013 (much more significant than those shown in the previous picture): all these findings have been reported to the Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily which is evaluating and studying this new evidence: hopefully by the summer 2014 we will be able to say more about this exciting development. 
Now it may be useful to show a comparison between the rock cut tombs of Malta (from Xemxija at St. Paul's Bay)  and those submerged rock cuts tombs of Lampedusa. The Xemxija Malta rock cuts tombs ( a cluster of 6) were excavated  in 1955 by John Evans yielding finds of the Ggantija Phase (3600-3200 BC) while those of Lampedusa are there, at the bottom of the sea still forgotten. 


A description with videos of some of the findings from the sumberged necropolis can be seen here

G. Radi “ Tracce di un insediamento neolitico nell’ Isola di Lampedusa”2Bigazzi, Bonadonna, Belluomini, Malipieri 1971 “ Studi sulle ossidiane Italiane)Boll. Soc. Geologica Italiana 90(4) pag 469-480
“Isolation and Interaction Cycles: small Mediterranean Islands from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age”” Giulia Recchia, Michelòa Danesi, Valentina Copat -
 “The Italian Obsidian Sources” Bigazzi, Oddone, Radi - Archemetriai Muhely 2005/1
-Helen Dawson University of Kent “Unravelling the mystery and process from the prehistoric colonization and abandonment of the Mediterranean Islands” in Comparativve Island Archaeologies 2008 Oxford

-“La risalita del mare nel corso dell’ Olocene” Antonioli e Silenzi – from “Mare e cambiamenti Globali” Ed. ICRAM year 2000  pp-29-42

-Variazioni del livello del mare nell’ ultimo semiciclo glaciale ottenute da speleo temi in grotte sommerse di aree costiere italiane” F. Antonioli from Studi Trent. Sci. Nat, Acta Geol., 80 (2003)

-“Holocene sea-level change in Sicily and its implications for tectonic models: new data fromTaormina area, North East Sicily” Antonioli, Kershaw, Rust, Verrubbi in Marine Geology 196 (2003) 53-71

-"Sea Level change  along the Italian coast for the past 10'000 years", 
Lumbeck, Antonioli, Purcell, Silenzi, Quaternary Science Review, edited by  Elsevier,  


-"Unravelling mystery and process from the prehistoric colonization and abandonment of the Mediterranean Islands" in Comparative Island Archeologies (British Archaeological Reports, Oxford, Chapter 7)   
-"Isolation and Interactyion cycles" Copat, Danesi and Recchia 

This post is copyright of  Diego Ratti ©