Researchers have recently discovered evidence about a massive tsunami that hit Israel’s north shore nearly 10,000 years ago could have possibly wiped out any evidence of prehistoric villages along the Mediterranean coast. It travelled inland for kilometres during the early Neolithic era.
The study also revealed that the massive wave was estimated to have been around 50 to 130 feet high (15-40 meters) and probably caused by a major earthquake in the area. It might also throw light on why that segment of the coast has no evidence of habitation which has baffled archaeologists for so long.
According to a study published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, researchers have also detected evidence of other ancient tsunamis in the region.
The findings from the study suggest that such events can be frequent and catastrophic even in a relatively small but closed sea like the Mediterranean.
The tsunami findings that were uncovered appeared to be significantly larger than others in the area over the past 6,000 years. The wave is believed to have struck in the area of Tel Dor between 9,910 and 9,290 years ago, making it the earliest known tsunami in the Mediterranean.
The study also revealed that most recorded tsunamis travelled no more than a few hundred meters, but this wave was believed to have washed in anywhere between 1.5 to 3.5 kilometers inland. The cause of the tsunami, however, is believed to be an earthquake along the Dead Sea fault system.
The research team also found marine sediments, including seashells and sand in an area that was far inland at the time of the event that is now assessed to have occurred. They now believe that this layer could have only been washed up here by a tsunami.
The team consisting a team of archaeologists and geologists from the University of California San Diego and the University of Haifa uncovered evidence of prehistoric cataclysm at Tel Dor, an ancient seaside settlement, located south of Haifa.
Gilad Shtienberg, a geoarchaeologist from University of California San Diego and who is also the lead author on the study said that they were actually not looking for evidence of a tsunami but were analysing the geological history of the area to understand environmental changes and how it would have affected life at Dor.
‘Our project focuses on reconstructing ancient climate and environmental change over the past 12,000 years along the Israeli coast; and we never dreamed of finding evidence of a prehistoric tsunami in Israel', Shtienberg, in a report about the findings said.
The research team said that the wave may be the prime reason that it had been difficult to find evidence of settlements or human habitation between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago. However, by the late Neolithic age, around 5,000 BCE, the area was again settled.