AN amazing scientific collaboration which aims to map Britain's 'lost Atlantis'.
The curious minds of the University of Bradford archaelogists, computer scientists and molecular biologists are joining forces to develop a three dimensional map of Doggerland, the land mass which once joined Britain to Europe and which now lies under the North Sea. And to do so they have received a €2.5 million Advanced Research Grant from the European Research Council.
The work proposed will enable scientists to digitally reconstruct Doggerland which was about the size of Iceland and which disappeared after the last Ice Age around 7,500 years ago.
Using modern genetics and computing technologies researchers will digitally bring Doggerland back to life, monitoring its development over 5,000 years to reveal much about how our ancestors made the critical move from hunter-gathering into farming.
“The only populated lands on earth that have not yet been explored in any depth are those which have been lost underneath the sea,” says Professor Vince Gaffney, Anniversary Chair in Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford.
He continued: “Although archaeologists have known for a long time that ancient climatic change and sea level rise must mean that Doggerland holds unique and important information about early human life in Europe, until now we have lacked the tools to investigate this area properly.”
The team will be using the vast remote sensing data sets generated by energy companies to reconstruct the past landscape now covered by the sea.
This will help to produce a detailed 3D map that will show rivers, lakes, hills and coastlines in a country which had previously been a heartland of human occupation in Europe but was lost to the sea as a consequence of past climate change, melting ice caps and rising sea levels.
Alongside this work, specialist survey ships will recover core sediment samples from selected areas of the landscape.
The project team will use the sediments to extract millions of fragments of ancient DNA from plants and animals that occupied Europe’s ancient coastal plains.