In October 2014, an underwater excavation was conducted at the Pottery Neolithic Kefar Samir site, off the southern coast of Haifa (Licence No. G-6/2014; map ref. 195941/744358). The excavation, funded by the Honor Frost Foundation, was the outcome of a collaboration between E. Galili (Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa and the Israel Antiquities Authority), D. Cvikel (the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa), J. Benjamin (Flinders University, Australia) and J. McCarthy (Wessex Archaeology, UK), with the assistance of A. Yurman and M. Bachar (Maritime Workshop of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa), I. Greenberg, (underwater photography) and 25 researchers, students and volunteer divers from Israel and abroad. Our thanks to M. Weinstein-Evron of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa (pollen and sediment analyses).
The well, dated to about 7800 YBP, is located at a depth of 5–7 m below present sea level, 200 m offshore. It was constructed of tree branches and pebbles, and is considered to be one of the oldest wooden structures in the world. After removing some 50 cubic m of sand that covered the well (Fig. 2), its top was exposed and documented: it was drawn and photographed (Figs. 3, 4), including the use of photogrammetry techniques to create a three-dimensional image. A test excavation was carried out inside the well, and core samples were taken from the clayish sediment within the well and its nearby surroundings (Fig. 4). Sieving of the well fill revealed the waterlogged wooden branches that were used in its construction; herbaceous remains, which are yet to be identified; and a single olive pit. Samples of the wooden branches were sent for tree species analysis and 14C dating.
The prehistoric villages discovered off the Carmel coast shed light on the changing diet, economy, material culture and lifestyle of coastal Neolithic residents, who lived through the transition to a food-production economy. Furthermore, these villages demonstrate how ancient populations coped with environmental changes such as sea-level rise and the associated changes in coastlines, flooding of the coastal plain habitation grounds and salinization of water sources. The finds provide new evidence of ancient sea-level changes along the Carmel coast (Fig. 5). They also provide evidence of the development of water wells and additional water-management technologies. Lastly, our knowledge on the environmental challenges experienced by the Neolithic populations sheds light on those facing modern-day coastal societies. A sea-level rise similar to the one that took place during the Neolithic period may occur in the future due to man-induced and natural global warming, requiring costly human adaptation, coastal protection, abandonment of settlements and the transfer of populations and valuable assets inland, as practiced by the Neolithic populations of the Carmel coast.
Galili E. and Schick T. 1990. Basketry and a Wooden Bowl from the Pottery Neolithic Submerged Site of Kfar Samir. JIPS 23:142–151.
Galili E. and Sharvit J. 1994–1995. Evidence of Olive Oil Production from the Submerged Site at Kfar Samir, Israel. JIPS 26:122–133.
Galili E. and Rosen B. 2011a. Submerged Neolithic Settlements off the Mediterranean Carmel Coast of Israel and Water Mining in the Southern Levant. Neo-Lithics 2:47–52.
Galili E. and Rosen B. 2011b. Submerged Neolithic Settlements off the Mediterranean Coast of Israel. In J. Benjamin, C. Bonsall, C. Pickard and A. Fischer eds. Submerged Prehistory. Oxford. Pp. 272–286.
Galili E., Rosen B. and Boaretto E. 2007. Haifa, Kafer Samir. HA-ESI 119.
Galili E., Weinstein-Evron M. and Zohary D. 1989. Appearance of Olives in Submerged Neolithic Sites along the Carmel Coast. JIPS 22:95–97.