The southern Levantine coasts have been a cradle for maritime civilizations since the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. These coasts are the closest marine environments to the core areas in which plants and animals were first domesticated. The first agro-pastoral-marine subsistence systems (so-called “Mediterranean fishing villages”) emerged on these coasts during the ninth millennium bp. During historical periods, the coast of Israel was at the crossroads of a busy trade route between many civilizations. Thousands of years of commerce, fishing, seafaring, and naval warfare have left an abundance of archaeological remains and artifacts on the coasts and seabeds of the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, and the Red Sea, including submerged prehistoric settlements, harbors and anchorage sites, shipwrecks and their cargos, and rock-cut coastal installations. Thus, the underwater archaeological heritage of Israel represents an important chapter in the history of civilization.
SUBMERGED PREHISTORIC SETTLEMENTS
Several Neolithic settlements dating from the ninth to the seventh millennia bp (uncalibrated 14C) have been exposed on the seabed along the Carmel coast, including a Pre-Pottery Neolithic C settlement at ‘Atlit Yam, and five Pottery Neolithic Wadi Rabah culture settlements.