Archaeologists have amassed incredible evidence about the ‘Lost Atlantis’ under the North Sea with more than 200 objects unearthed over the years.
The now submerged landmass, known as Doggerland, connected Britain with continental Europe, before it was submerged by rising sea levels around 6200 BC.
The archaeological potential of the area was first identified in the early 20th century, and interest surged in 1931 when a fishing vessel pulled out an old, thorny antler. Since then, ships have found the remains of mammoths, lions and other animals, and a few prehistoric tools and weapons.
But only now, after a decade of research and extraordinary discoveries by an army of amateur archaeologists roaming the Dutch coast, can a major exhibition paint a picture of the “Lost Atlantis” imagined by H.G. Wells in the late 19th century.
The exhibition “Doggerland: The Lost World of the North Sea”, at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Archeology) in Leiden, southern Holland, includes more than 200 objects.
These range from animal remains and fossils to a portion of the skull of a male Neanderthal.
Much of the project’s success is due to a team of “citizen scientists” who have discovered a number of amazing artifacts, to tell the whole story.
Constructed from materials washed up from the sea as part of efforts to protect the modern coast from the impact of the climate crisis, artificial beaches offered a collection of inaccessible treasures from a world inhabited by modern humans and Neanderthals.
Dr Sacia van der Vaart Virchow, assistant curator of the museum’s prehistoric department, told the Guardian: “We have a wonderful community of amateur archaeologists who walk almost daily on these beaches looking for fossils and artefacts, and we work with them to analyze and study them. It is open to everyone. Anyone can find a hand axe, for example. The toolkit that could have been used was found entirely by amateur archaeologists.”
Discoveries such as a 50,000-year-old flint tool have helped experts update their understanding of Neanderthals – who were thought to be feral and simplistic – as capable of complex, multi-stage tasks.
The Doggerland – named by University of Exeter archaeologist Briony Coles in the 1990s – is an extension of the seafloor in the North Sea, believed to have been incorporated more than 8,200 years ago in the wake of a massive tsunami.
It is reported that the exhibition “Doggerland: The Lost World of the North Sea”, which will be available for a visit until October 31, can also be viewed virtually on the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden YouTube channel.
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