Italy: The Archaeology of Palaeoshorelines, Coastal Caves and Seafaring Connections

Elena Flavia Castagnino Berlinghieri, Fabrizio Antonioli, Geoff Bailey

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

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Italy has very few currently known finds of underwater archaeology from the Stone Age, despite a substantial history of geological and geoarchaeological investigation into sea-level change and archaeological investigations of underwater remains of coastal settlements and shipwrecks from later periods. Nevertheless, there are traces of prehistoric cultural activity in submerged coastal caves, open-air sites with stone tools and potsherds that have survived inundation, and Bronze Age stone-built structures that have been partially submerged by recent changes in relative sea level and give some measure of the potentially destructive effects of marine erosion. The tradition of geoarchaeological investigation into late Pleistocene and early Holocene sea-level change has provided detailed maps of palaeoshorelines that provide interesting insights into the likelihood of early sea crossings and connectivity between the Italian mainland and its major offshore islands and potential targets for the discovery of new archaeological finds. Moreover, maritime activities and coastal settlement have played an important role throughout Italian prehistory, including consumption of marine foods such as molluscs at the shore edge, sea travel to exploit the resources of offshore islands, agricultural dispersal, and the obsidian trade. These developments were under way at a time when sea levels were mostly lower than the present, and most of the relevant archaeological evidence is likely to be on palaeoshorelines that are now submerged, emphasising the need for new underwater investigations to fill this important gap in the archaeological record.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Europe’s Drowned Landscapes
EditorsGeoffrey Bailey, Nena Galanidou, Hans Peeters, Hauke Jöns, Moritz Mennenga
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic) 978-3-030-37367-2, 9783030373672
ISBN (Print) 978-3-030-37366-5 , 9783030373665
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameCoastal Research Library
ISSN (Print)2211-0577
ISSN (Electronic)2211-0585


  • Submerged caves
  • Palaeoshorelines
  • Offshore islands
  • Obsidian trade
  • Seafaring
  • Neolithic
  • Bronze Age


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