Blue Archaeology. Assembling the cultural and natural heritage of submerged Stone-Age Seascapes in Sweden

Project: Research

Project Details


The project seeks to gain novel knowledge of the Early Holocene submerged landscapes of Southern Sweden. The inundated landscape sites are 11,000-8,000 years old and yield incomparable remains. The project is an opportunity reevaluate
this period and position its wider scientific impact. Three broad questions arises.

What are the actual distribution, potential and threat of submerged landscapes and its settlement remains in Swedish waters?

How can digital archaeology enhance visualization, documentation, interpretation and communication of submerged landscapes and underwater settlement remains?

How can empirical and theoretical archaeology of submerged landscapes take other ”blue” fields into account, and what models, infrastructures and competencies are needed?

In order to answer the above a research group from different fields must be formed; researchers from archaeology and the cultural heritage sector, GIS-and 3Dvisualization specialists, bioarchaeologists, divers etc. The project is based at Lund University, Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History. During four years it will accomplish four work packages ranging from the historical and theoretical, to the empirical and under water technical. During year 2 and 3 test excavations will be conducted. In order to assess degradation a unique sonar-mapping program will be employed. The proposed project will considerably increase our archaeological knowledge, and also propose a valid cultural heritage management strategy.

Layman's description

The setting is the Baltic Sea, an as vulnerable as valuable waterbody with quite a diverse natural and cultural history. From a cultural heritage point of view, the maritime remains of the Baltic Sea are outstanding. It is much due to the excellent organic preservation, but also, Sweden has a long tradition of interest in the maritime past. Within the Swedish territory, 16,000 heritage sites are registered. Of these, only 23 are Stone-Age remains. The amount is not representative; it is merely a result of lack of research interest, ditto methods. In fact, at least 3,500 km² of the sea outside Blekinge and Scania have been terrestrial ground between 11,500-8000 years ago, an area equivalent to Gotland.

The primary purpose of the project is to increase and describe the existing knowledge of Early Holocene submerged landscapes and settlements within the sea territory of Sweden. The project is designed to assemble, test and develop transdisciplinary practices to acquire a reliable base of knowledge, valid not only for archaeological researchers or the cultural heritage sector; but for palaeoecologists, climate researchers and marine planners. This is a step towards a ”Blue Archaeology”.

The main area of research is the Baltic Sea. However, during 2018 the project expanded to some exploratory fieldwork in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Here research agenda and methods are tested in a new setting.
Short titleBlue Archaeology
Effective start/end date2016/10/012022/12/31

UKÄ subject classification

  • History and Archaeology