Continental Shelf

Continental Shelf

The SPLASH (Submerged Prehistoric Archaeology and Landscapes of the Continental Shelf) project, an EU-funded COST (Co-operation in Science and Technology) Action, is developing a network of research collaboration, bringing together archaeologists, marine geophysicists, environmental scientists and commercial and industrial organisations operating on the seabed.

The main objectives are to promote research on the investigation, interpretation and management of the drowned landscapes and prehistoric archaeology of the European continental shelf, which form a major but hidden part of the European cultural heritage, to create a structure for the development of new interdisciplinary and international research proposals, and to provide guidance to heritage professionals, government agencies, commercial organisations, policy makers and a wider public on the relevance of underwater research to European history, and to the understanding of sea level change and its social relevance and likely future impact.

Up to 3.2 million square kilometres of the European continental shelf (equal to about 40 per cent of the European land mass) was exposed as dry land during the periods of lower sea level that persisted throughout the Ice Ages until the establishment of modern sea level about 6000 years ago. The network will draw on data describing the prehistoric archaeology and palaeoenvironments of the European continental shelf. With the aid of grid technologies, large sets of seabed physical and geochemical data already collected and archived will be identified in an attempt to reconstruct these past landscapes.

This proposal is the outcome of a series of discussions between a small group of British, Danish, Dutch, German, Greek, Norwegian and Spanish specialists already engaged in coastal and underwater research. During the preparation of the proposal, there were expressions of interest from over 150 archaeologists, scientists and heritage professionals from 27 European Member States including the European partner countries of Russia and the Ukraine.

SPLASHCOS will set the design requirements for researchers to access, browse and manipulate data stored in archives across Europe. The network will aid the collection and sharing of information for the future, ultimately helping us learn more about our early history.

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