Submerged wells and caves

Underwater cultural heritage also encompasses artefacts and traces of ancient human life preserved in flooded caves, which either have always been submerged or have been flooded by the rise of the sea.

Such sites include, for instance the French Cosquer Cave, with its entry at a depth of 37 meters under water, featuring  paintings and engravings made between 27,000 and 19,000 years ago. While the entry of the cave lies deep under water, and its discovery has cost several human lives, the paintings themselves are not submerged. They are unique examples of prehistoric cave paintings, which were made, when the water level was lower and when the cave entrance was not yet submerged.

Other famous submerged caves are the Cenotes in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The Chichen Itza Cenote in Mexico is a karst cave tunnelled into the limestone by groundwater, which held for example extensive artefacts. The use of this cenote was exclusively sacrificial and ceremonial and remains of human sacrifices have been found. In other cenotes much older human remains have been discovered, of which one was even identified to be the oldest human skeleton ever found in the Americas.