Investigating the submerged prehistory of the eastern Adriatic: progress and prospects

Jonathan Benjamin, Luka Bekić, Darko Komšo, Ida Koncani Uhač, Clive Bonsall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


In this paper we assess the potential for the survival and investigation of submerged prehistoric sites and cultural landscapes in the eastern Adriatic. We review previous underwater prehistoric finds from the region and evaluate their significance. Most of these finds were made in shallow water close inshore and likely date to the Neolithic–Early Bronze Age. We discuss the reasons for this pattern and for the concentration of finds along the Istrian and Dalmatian coasts. The prospects for finding submerged sites belonging to earlier periods of prehistory are discussed, with emphasis on the crucial period between 7000 and 5500 cal BC during which farming and herding supplanted hunting, fishing, and gathering as the dominant modes of subsistence. Against this background, we present a research design for a multidisciplinary study of submerged landscapes around one of the larger islands of the Zadar archipelago. It is suggested that some important questions of the processes and timing of the transition to farming around the Adriatic Basin may only be answered through the investigation of the continental shelf, and that such research can also contribute to a better understanding of Holocene sea-level and coastal change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSubmerged Prehistory
EditorsJonathan Benjamin, Clive Bonsall, Catriona Pickard, Anders Fischer
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxbow Books
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-84217-418-0
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • eastern Adriatic, sea-level rise, submerged cultural landscapes, Mesolithic–Neolithic transition


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