Mediterranean submerged lands. (I). Dissemination 49th
Mediterranean Poseidonia meadows and human settlements at more than 100 metres depth, discovered in 2000 by Robert Ballard in the Black Sea invite us to scientifically reflect about the so-called lost lands in the Mediterranean and in other areas of the planet by extension.
The Poseidonia (Posidonia oceanica) are Mediterranean endemic aquatic plants that live between the shore and 40 meters deep, and belong to the group of phanerogams (higher plants in which it can be clearly differentiated the root, the stem, the leaves, the flowers and the fruits with their seeds). For this reason we can make ourselves the first question: how is it possible that there is a flowering plant at 30 meters deep in seawater? The answer is that they are terrestrial plants adapted to the marine environment due to the evolution from wind pollination (air environment) to hydrophilic pollination (in aqueous media) and the evolution from fresh water tolerance to salt water tolerance (halofilia). This last step was produced by natural selection during the Messinian period salinity crisis in the Mediterranean 5.96 million years ago as a result of marine disconnection, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, caused by falling sea levels during the Pliocene (5.3 and 2.5 million years ago) which culminated in the Pleistocene glaciation (starting 2.5 million years ago and ending about 12,000 years ago) causing the evaporation of the Mediterranean waters, its salinization and the formation of small lakes in the deepest places.
First scientific data: “Mediterranean water level began to descend 6 million years ago until it reached, 2.5 million years ago, between 300 and 2000 meters below the current level according to different areas" Right now the map of the Mediterranean would be similar to what follows:
The answer to the first question leads us to the conclusion of the existence of large land areas during the Paleolithic and currently immersed in the bottom of the Mediterranean.
If we continue the argument with the findings of Robert Ballard in the Black Sea we can wonder where did humans live 10,000 years ago?
The current population distribution indicates that the course of the rivers and the coast line are the preferred human settlements and nothing suggests that this has changed substantially in the last 10,000 years. This allows us to assume that 10,000 years ago the human population lived in the course of the rivers and at the coast. But, as the map indicates, the rivers of the Paleolithic (period of human natural history that matches the Pleistocene geological history of the planet) were similar to the current ones although longer, since they had to get almost to the center of the Mediterranean and the line of the coast had no relation to the current shoreline.
Ballard discovered traces of human settlements at 100 meters depth of the current Black Sea. This allows us to ensure that about 12000 years ago, towards the end of the Ice Age, the Earth began to warm. The huge ice sheets that covered the Northern Hemisphere began to melt. As a result, 12,000 years ago the Atlantic Ocean flooded the Mediterranean sea and the Black Sea, that was a freshwater lake until then, was flooded by the Mediterranean Sea approximately 7000 years ago.
Both events were initiated by a small water via and the later erosion made that in both sapces (Mediterranean and Black Sea) water levels reached levels over populated areas in a relatively short time. Unproven calculations indicate that water levels could rise about 2 meters a day.
To end this first delivery we can add a literary testimony to the botanical evidence (Poseidonia) and archaeological evidence (Ballard) on the existence of large areas submerged in the Mediterranean basin.
The "Epic of Gilgamesh" is a text composed by 12 clay tablets written 4000 years ago, in cuneiform writing, although versions have been found in several languages (Assyrian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian, Hittite), which recounts the journey of Gilgamesh, who lived 4800 years ago.
As described in tablet XI, Gilgamesh has an interview at the Black Sea shore with Utnapishtim and his wife, who survived a great flood. In column III it is written: "its violence came upon the people like a great battle, because of the water they could not see each other" and column VI says: "Gilgamesh, having heard these words , opened a water line and dropped its load… to the bottom of the Apsu where he saw the plant… in fresh waters… "
It seems that the plant, which Gilgamesh called shibu issakhir ameh, refers to an herb that lives in freshwater streams (apsu) into the sea (tiamat), i.e. in the ancient channels of the rivers currently submerged, and which survived the great flood of the Black Sea.
In subsequent deliveries we will discuss the importance of these submerged surfaces in the development of human science and their reflection in the great Mediterranean myths.