Archaeologists hunt for woolly mammoth

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A TEAM of archaeologists has arrived in Jersey to investigate what life was like in and around the Channel Islands before they were islands.

And they believe the remains of creatures such as the woolly mammoth could be found under the sea.

They are trying to discover signs of human and animal activity from the time when the British Isles were still connected by land to the rest of Europe. They know the area was inhabited before the era, around 6,000 years ago, when sea levels began to rise, the English Channel was formed and the higher areas above sea level became islands.

The team, from University College London’s Institute of Archaeology and Archaeology South East, are working on a section of the intertidal reef known as the Violet Bank, which extends up to three miles from the shore.

Project leader Dr Matt Pope said: ‘We know there is a record of Neanderthal archaeology and extinct fauna, such as mammoth, out there waiting to be discovered and documented.

‘This week’s survey is about establishing how we can explore the seabed in the short tidal windows available, and map any Ice Age deposits and understand what potential they hold.’

The team are being hosted by Jersey Heritage at Seymour Tower, which sits on the Violet Bank – enabling the archaeologists to remain on location and make the most of the limited time when the landscape is revealed at low tide.

The survey was originally going to take place in 2020 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, and supported by Jersey Heritage and the Société Jersiaise.

Dr Pope added: ‘After a temporary delay due to the pandemic, we are excited to get to work and find out more about this starkly beautiful and scientifically important landscape.

‘If we are lucky enough to discover any artefacts on this trip, they will be recorded and handed over to Jersey Heritage to curate.’

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