An ancient settlement on the shores of Lake Ohrid is thousands of years older than previously thought.
The discovery was made by a group of Swiss researchers, who performed radiocarbon dating of 800 wooden columns found at the bottom of the lake. They have managed to refute previous claims that this settlement dates back to 1,000 BC.
The settlement located between Albania and North Macedonia has already been proven to have been inhabited from the middle of the 5th Millennium to the Bronze Age.
According to Researchers from the University of Bern, dating became possible because the wood was deprived of oxygen under water, resisting algae or bacterial erosion. Such conservation levels have previously been found only in the alpine regions.
Cultivated plants were also found near the trees that were taken for analysis.
In a press release, the University says the discovery is of particular importance as the area has played a key role in the spread of agriculture. "The first farmers in Europe lived here," say researchers.
"Early cattle breeders and farmers from Anatolia first arrived in the Aegean region, especially in northern Greece, and then in Central Europe through southern Italy and the Balkans more than 8,000 years ago."
The researchers, who conducted their research as part of the European Research Council EXPLO program "Exploring the dynamics and causes of changing prehistoric land use in the cradle of European agriculture", now hope to give the area a cultural protection status.