June 10, 2023

The stays of a long-lost church submerged by floodwaters virtually 700 years in the past have been found by researchers.

The medieval church is believed to have as soon as fashioned a part of the medieval buying and selling settlement of Rungholt, which has typically been known as the “Atlantis of the North Sea.”

The sunken settlement was reportedly submerged throughout a devastating storm surge in A.D. 1362. It lies simply off the coast of modern-day Germany beneath the Wadden Sea—an intertidal zone within the southeastern a part of the North Sea.

Excessive storm occasions throughout medieval and early trendy instances, significantly the one in A.D. 1362, precipitated main land losses within the space, turning cultivated marshland into tidal flats, in line with a 2022 examine revealed within the on-line journal PLOS One.

Archaeological excavation is finished throughout low tide within the Wadden Sea. The location of a long-lost church that was submerged by floodwaters virtually 700 years in the past has been found by researchers within the space. A particular steel body permits archaeological excavations of 1 sq. meter within the tidal flats.
© Ruth Blankenfeldt

The precise location of Rungholt—and even its very existence—have lengthy been the topic of debate. However now an interdisciplinary crew of researchers say they’ve discovered proof for a church which will have sat on the middle of the medieval settlement.

The analysis crew included specialists from Kiel College, Johannes Gutenberg College of Mainz, the Middle for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology and the State Archaeology Division of Schleswig-Holstein, that are all primarily based in Germany.

To find the church, the scientists used a mix of methods to look at a stretch of mudflats within the Wadden Sea masking an space of just about 4 sq. miles. The survey included the realm across the island of Hallig Südfall, the place earlier proof has indicated Rungholt is likely to be situated.

“Settlement stays hidden underneath the mudflats are first localized and mapped over a large space utilizing varied geophysical strategies,” Dennis Wilken, a geophysicist at Kiel College, mentioned in an announcement.

This month, the crew’s efforts revealed a 1.2-mile-long chain of medieval terps—synthetic mounds constructed to guard city areas from excessive tides and water surges—close to Hallig Südfall.

Among the many terps, the analysis crew discovered buildings that they decided to be the foundations of a big church measuring round 130 by 50 ft.

In whole, the crew discovered within the investigated space 54 terps, systematic drainage techniques, a sea dike with a tidal gate harbor, two smaller church buildings and now the big church.

However regardless of the most recent discovery, erosion poses a menace to the medieval stays which are dotted throughout the realm, in line with the archaeologists.

“Round Hallig Südfall and in different mudflats, the medieval settlement stays are already closely eroded and infrequently solely detectable as detrimental imprints. That is additionally very evident across the church’s location, so we urgently want to accentuate analysis right here,” mentioned Hanna Hadler in an announcement. She is with the Johannes Gutenberg College of Mainz’s Institute of Geography.