Acoustic Detection and Mapping of Submerged Stone Age Sites with Knapped Flint

Ole Grøn, Lars Ole Boldreel, Rostand Tayong Boumda, Philippe Blondel, Bo Madsen, Egon Nørmark, Deborah Cvikel, Ehud Galili, Antonio Dell’Anno

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter presents a non-destructive survey technique under development: acoustic detection and mapping of submerged Stone Age sites. While it has been experimentally established that reasonable amounts of man-knapped flint pieces can be excited by and respond to specific acoustic signal through meters of sea floor sediment, it is not yet known how small assemblages of knapped flint pieces one can obtain a response from and how deep in the sea floor this will be possible. It also remains to check experimentally if other knapped materials than flint (obsidian, quartzite, basalt, etc.) respond in a similar way given that some of their basic characteristics potentially differ from those registered for flint. This technique will facilitate a much more effective and cheap detection and mapping of submerged Stone Age sites with knapped lithics compared to the techniques available at present. Especially the deep sites down to the approximately 120 m deep coastlines of the glaciations, which are very difficult to localize today, represent an important research potential. In general, the highly productive coast lines must be assumed to have played an important economic role of human society from the Palaeolithic onwards, which means that we miss an important part of the picture of the human cultural development. In spite of the promising perspective of methodological improvement, one must be aware of the limitations of the acoustic method. It will not be able to map Stone Age sites lacking knapped lithics. This chapter presents and discusses the method’s basic technological principles and the experimental results obtained so far, elucidating its potential.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationHandbook of Cultural Heritage Analysis
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9783030600167
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Social Sciences


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