‘Swedish Atlantis’ Revealed: 9,000-Year-Old Tools Found In Underwater Stone Age Settlement

Researchers diving off the coast of Sweden have discovered tools dating back some 9,000 years in what is believed to be a Stone Age settlement that the mainland press has dubbed the “Swedish Atlantis.” Among the recovered prehistoric tools are a pick axe made of elk antlers and fish traps made of braided hazel rods.

The Daily Mail recently reported that researchers from Lund University in Sweden have been studying what appears to be a Stone Age lagoon community that now rests in the waters of the Baltic Sea. But 9,000 years ago, the settlement was occupied during parts of the year by Stone Age humans who, according to scientists, led “quite good lives here.”

The braided fish traps, found to be the oldest stationary fish traps in northern Europe, were found about seven years ago, according to LiveScience. The site of the settlement was extremely well-preserved due to having already been covered with sediment prior to the area becoming submerged. Divers discovered eight of the traps scattered about the area up to two miles off Sweden’s southern coastline.

Researchers also uncovered red deer antlers with slaughter markings and a pick axe made of elk antlers. The axe bears “interesting inscriptions,” according to Anton Hansson, Ph.D. student in Quaternary geology at Lund University. Scientists as yet have been unable to decipher the strange markings.

As Huffington Post noted in 2014, underwater locations awash with tools and other makings of an ancient civilization are prompts for many to conjure up images of an inundating sea that suddenly swallows entire settlements, so it was only natural that the Scandinavian media quickly applied the label of “Swedish Atlantis” to the underwater site.

Sodertorn University archaeology professor Bjorn Nilsson cautioned against using such sensationalized appellations.

“Atlantis still is a tale, a myth which always pops up when submerged lands are discovered,” Nilsson said via email. “20,000 years ago sea levels [were] more than [300 feet] below present sea level so there are many ‘Atlantises’ around the world, then!”

Ruins of the fabled Atlantis
Atlantis, according to Greek philosopher Plato, was a fabled continent destroyed by cataclysmic earthquakes and submergence into the sea. [Image by zurabi/Shutterstock]

Besides, the Atlantis written of by Plato in 360 BCE was not prehistoric and existed as a massive continent with attendant islands ruled in part by a confederation of kings.

underwater ruins explored by diver
Underwater settlement sites off the coast of Sweden have been dubbed the 'Swedish Atlantis.' [Image by Angelo Giampiccolo/Shutterstock]

Still, Nilsson wrote, the “Swedish Atlantis” discovery provided “novel insight in prehistoric people.”

Hansson, who was also the lead researcher of the latest study, explained in a more recent Lund University video posted to YouTube, “If you want to understand fully how humans dispersed from Africa and how they lived their lives, we also have to find all their settlements. And quite a few of their settlements are, today, underwater because during the last glaciation sea level was quite a lot lower than today.”

He added, “Humans have always preferred coastal sites, as we do today.”

With more advanced geological technology, the Lund University study has revealed that those prehistoric people lived in a veritable Stone Age paradise, according to LiveScience. Hansson further explained, “We know that this time is the start of quite a warm period during the Holocene history and people, I think, had quite good lives here. There was lots of food and quite a warm climate, at least during the summers.”

Anton Hansson and his colleagues reconstructed what the Stone Age lagoon settlement would have looked like during its heyday using a type of sonar system called multibeam echo-sounder technology. In order to gain a better determination of the topography of the area and what it might have looked like prior to it being submerged, the researchers also dug into the seabed. The various mapped underwater sites — as Prof. Nilsson had predicted, sites that should not be aggrandized as Atlantis — were located about 65 feet (20 meters) below sea level of Sweden’s coast.

[Featured Image by Uncle Leo/Shutterstock]