Archaeology of the Continental Shelf: Submerged Cultural Landscapes

Rachel Bynoe, Jonathan Benjamin, Nicholas Flemming

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Over 3000 submerged cultural landscapes with archaeological indicators from the Pleistocene/Early Holocene on the continental shelf are known worldwide. These range from the nearshore to about 100 m below modern sea level, and they vary in age from 5,000 years to up to one million years old. Preserved relict terrestrial deposits and cultural landscape fragments have been found off the coast of every continent except Antarctica. These findings are consistent with the climatic fluctuations of the Pleistocene glacial cycles, the repeated lowering of global sea levels to about 130 m below modern sea level, and the extension of adjacent continental climate, vegetation, freshwater drainage, and fauna onto the exposed continental shelf. The inclusion of early human populations and cultures of the continental shelf into world prehistory has a substantial impact on our understanding of the development of coastal resources, population density and distribution, movements of populations, spread of culture and technologies, and the evolution of specialized coastal adaptations, diet, and early seafaring.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Geoarchaeology
EditorsAllan S. Gilbert, Paul Goldberg, Rolfe D. Mandel, Vera Aldeias
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-44600-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-44600-0
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2023

Publication series

NameEncyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series book series (EESS)
ISSN (Print)1388-4360
ISSN (Electronic)1871-756X


  • Geoarchaeology
  • Continental Shelf
  • Submerged sites
  • Shipwrecks
  • Cultural heritage


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