Floor of Persian Gulf Likely Contains Remains of the First Human Proto-Cities
The idea that some of the most ancient human settlements are now underwater is hardly new or heretical. We know that the ocean level during last ice age was around 80-100 meters lower than today and a good portion of the near continental shelf in many part of the world was above water. For example New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania were part of a larger formation known as Sahul. Similarly India and Sri Lanka was connected by a natural land bridge as was the Eastern most part of Asia and Western most part of North America via Beringia. Some of you might have also heard about Doggerland.
In other words, more than a few coast lines were noticeably different during the last ice age than they are today. But what does any of this have to do with lost proto-cities. As it turns out, much more than you might think at first glance. It is common knowledge that humans prefer building settlements close to, or on, the shores of large bodies of water or rivers. There is a reason why inland USA is sparsely populated as compared to both the coasts and you can see this pattern in many other parts of world and throughout human history. But what does this mean for locating as yet undiscovered proto-cities? Consider the Persian Gulf. Today, it is just a shallow extension of Indian Ocean. But as late as even 9000 BC, a pretty large part of it was above water.
But how was the climate in that area during late ice age? Based on currently available evidence, it appears to have been a low-lying plain with multiple rivers draining it. The region was also noticeably cooler and wetter than today. To put it another way, it had a quasi-Mediterranean climate albeit with bulk of precipitation in summer instead of winter. The climatic conditions, including availability of fresh water, were ideal for human settlement. But could humans have settled in that area? Based on currently available archaeological evidence, they most certainly did. So then, what is the point of writing this post? Haven't we established that there were human settlements in that area?
And this is where I go beyond what most archaeologists think lies on seafloor of Persian Gulf. See.. even though we have now found large Neolithic sites from around end of last ice age, such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevalı Çori. many still prefer to believe that "real civilization" started after the ice age had ended. This is largely due to two factors. Firstly, we have still not found any large and organized neolithic settlements much older than 9,5000 BC. Secondly, the climate in many places which later became alleged "cradles" of civilization was not particularity pleasant during the last ice age. But what if the places where humans first settled down and built proto-cities are now underwater? What if many of the first proto-cities are now at bottom of Persian Gulf?
Some of you might point out that a number of people have previously written about the Persian Gulf being inhabited during the last ice age, and that is absolutely correct. I do however, unlike most of them, believe that settlements in what is today the Persian Gulf represented something between paleolithic (and mesolithic) hunter-gatherers and what we see in Sumer and subsequent Mesopotamian civilizations. Maybe the neolithic period started a few thousand years earlier than we currently believe. Perhaps the process of domesticating plants and animals also started a few thousand years before end of ice age. If so, it is very likely that the remains of large neolithic religious sites and proto-cities lie under a few meters of sediment under the floor of Persian Gulf.
What do you think? Comments?