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Sunken settlement discovered beneath a Venice lagoon

The submerged remains of a Roman road have been found on the seafloor of the Venice lagoon, along with archaeological structures that are thought to be what's left of a dock and settlements.

The remains are thought to date to centuries before Venice was founded in early medieval times, when much of what is now the lagoon was accessible by land.

The new discoveries in the Treporti channel, in the northern part of Venice's outer lagoon, confirm the findings of an archaeological investigation of the area in the 1980s, and suggest that the now-submerged area was mostly dry land, said Fantina Madricardo, a geophysicist with the Institute of Marine Science (ISMAR) in Venice, and lead author of a new study published Thursday (July 22) in the journal Scientific Reports. The area likely had several small permanent settlements and roads that linked them to nearby trading centers, she said.

"The Venice lagoon formed from the main sea-level rise after the last glaciation, so it's a long-term process," Madricardo told Live Science. "We know that since Roman times — about 2,000 years — that the sea level there rose [up to] two and a half meters [8 feet]."

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