The early farmers were already skilled canoeists

At the site of La Marmotta, located on the lake bed of Lake Bracciano, a volcanic lake in the Italian province of Lazio, archaeologists have found the remains of the oldest known boats in the Mediterranean. The remains were found among the remains of a village that was inhabited between 5700 and 5200 BC, possibly by the first farmers – at the time of the Early Neolithic, when agriculture came from the east. The Neolithic settlement was probably abandoned due to waterlogging: by the end of the 6th millennium, the area had become wetter and the level of Lake Bracciano rose by several metres.

Archaeologists found the remains of five canoes, all made of hollow logs. But they found not only wood from these trunks, but also from other tree species. Various types of parts were made from this wood, ranging from transverse reinforcements (which may also have served as seats) to T-shaped elements with holes in them for attaching or tightening ropes. The latter indicates that the canoes were equipped with sails.

Humans are known to have navigated the waters as early as the Stone Age – for example, ensuring that islands were quickly populated. But the wood of prehistoric vessels has usually rotted long ago. This is not the case with La Marmotta canoes. According to the archaeologists who found them, these boats were not only more valuable, but also seaworthy. Hence the former inhabitants of the submerged Neolithic village may have used it to conquer the nearby Mediterranean Sea.

Source: Spanish Research Council One plus

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Megan Vasquez

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