Well 11 and the Megalithic Building 65, which had been uncovered in previous excavations, were re-exposed and documented. In addition, a new well (L102) lined with stones was discovered and excavated to a depth of 0.2 m. The material excavated from the well was sifted and contained bones of small mammals and fish, a bone spatula, flint artifacts and charred and water logged floral remains.
Installations and buildings from the Pottery Neolithic period (Wadi Rabah culture) that were exposed during sea storms were documented while surveying the submerged settlements along the coast north of ‘Atlit-Yam. An elliptical building, constructed from upright stone slabs, was exposed near the shore at the Kefar Samir site (Fig. 2). Hundreds of olive pits were discovered in the vicinity of the building. At Kfar Galim site, four wells (diam. c. 1 m) built of stones and tree trunks (trunk diam. 0.1–0.3 m; Fig. 3) were revealed at a depth of 1.5–3.0 m below sea-level. These wells are among the earliest known wooden installations. At Tell Hreis site, a large megalithic structure (length c. 60 m) built of hundreds of boulders (max. length 1 m) was discovered. Also seceral upright wooden columns (foundations of a cabin?) and a square building constructed of fieldstones were found at a depth of 0.2–4.0 m below sea-level. In addition, animal bones, flint tools, pottery and stone vessels were discovered (Fig. 4).
At the submerged sites of Kefar Galim, Ha-Hotrim, Tell Hreis and Megadim, six stone-lined wells were exposed (Fig. 5). All the remains documented in the surveys are situated from the coastline up to 120 m offshore. The discovery of the megalithic building at the Tell Hreis site might indicate that the site was a regional center for the settlements of the Pottery Neolithic period along the Carmel coast.
The village at ‘Atlit-Yam is the earliest known example of a Mediterranean fishing village whose economy was simultaneously based on resources from the sea and the land, which were the basis for the Mediterranean diet known today. According to the marks on the human bones recovered from the graves it seems that the population residing in ‘Atlit-Yam 9,200–8,500 years before present had to cope with diseases, such as malaria that was widespread in the coastal marshes, as well as tuberculosis and ear infections that were caused by diving in cold water, probably for underwater fishing. Despite the diseases and the difficulties, a significant proportion of the population lived to the age of fifty – an old age in terms of societies that lived in the Levant in the Neolithic period. It seems that the balanced diet, based on resources from both sea and land, contributed to the health and longevity of the ancient residents.
A settlement sequence from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (c. 9,200 YBP) until the Late Pottery Neolithic period (c. 7,000 YBP) existed along the northern Carmel coast. During this period, the inhabitants of the Carmel coast exploited the marine and terrestrial ressources, were engaged in agriculture, growing cultivated plants and raising domesticated animals, drew water from wells they dug on the shore and began utilizing olives for the production of oil.
Most likely the Carmel coast residents maintained inter-communal social and economic ties, and a regional societal organization was probably formed there during the Neolithic period.
The unique and well-preserved remains discovered on the seabed at ‘Atlit-Yam and along the Carmel coast illustrate the changes of human culture in the coastal region during the Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic periods—the transition to farming and intensive exploitation of marine resources, transition in dwelling patterns, in the social organization and the funerary practices and the alteration of the sea level and the coast. When the village at ‘Atlit-Yam had existed, the global sea level was c. 16 m lower than the sea level today, and the shoreline of the Carmel coast was c. 1.5 km west of today’s shoreline. The remains of the submerged villages from the Neolithic period show that the major sea level changes occurred as a result of natural processes and were, in no way, connected to man’s activity. Many scholars are of the opinion that the accelerated human activity of recent centuries has caused a greenhouse effect and a significant hastening in global warming. As a result of the warming, the polar ice caps are rapidly melting and the global sea level is rising, an increase that might be in excess of 6 m above the present-day sea level. The impact of the rise of the sea level on the settlements along the coast can be learned from the remains of the submerged villages at ‘Atlit-Yam and along the Carmel coast, which constitute silent testimony to lost societies that witness a rise of sea-level of tens meters and the inundation of their settlements.