Slumbering some 16 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean is a 7,500-year-old well that may contain something more than water. Maritime archaeologists excavating in Israel uncovered the site in October; it's been dated to the pre-pottery Neolithic period, according to a press release from Flinders University. The university's Dr. Jonathan Benjamin explains such wells "are valuable to Neolithic archaeology because once they stopped serving their intended purpose, people used them as big rubbish bins." He believes that the well at the Kfar Samir site had to be given up as rising seas contaminated the fresh water with salt.
After moving a number of tons of "mobile sand" from atop the well, core samples were taken and are being tested for pollen and other sediments that could contain clues about the civilization's diet. Among the items archaeologists hope to find: stone tools, flint weapons, needles made of bone, plant fibers, and seeds. The team is also using high-tech photogrammetry methods to fashion a "3D mosaic" of the well. "We can spend a few minutes under water, but hours on land analyzing the material in very fine detail," Benjamin says. The village that used the well will also be studied more—currently, little is known about its size or occupants. (In other Neolithic news, scientists found a "super henge.")