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Bronze Age village found near Roman city of Aquileia

A 3,500-year-old village has been unearthed near the Roman city of Aquileia in northeast Italy, one of Italy's 51 world heritage sites, Corriere della Sera reported.

Bronze Age village found near Roman city of Aquileia
A wall at the Bronze Age settlement unearthed near the Roman city 
of Aquileia [Credit: Archaeological Superintendency Friuli]
The village was found next to an ancient Roman canal, known as the Canale Anfora, by a team of archaeologists from the University of Udine.

From 200BC until 400AD Aquileia – today home to just 3,500 inhabitants – was one of the biggest and most important market towns in Europe, with a population of some 100,000.

Much is known about the town's Roman origins, which now stretch back even further.

Archaeologists were first alerted to the possible existence of an earlier "protosettlement" after carrying out a geophysical scan in 1980, but had to wait until 2013 before excavations could get underway.

Bronze Age village found near Roman city of Aquileia
Archaeologists working at the Bronze Age settlement near 
the Roman city of Aquileia [Credit: University of Udine]
The excavations, which concluded in December, have revealed the remains of a Bronze Age village which had area of 100,000 square metres.

Among the findings were the foundations of several buildings made from gravel and stone - once the walls of Bronze Age homes.

The digs also unearthed a series of open hearths, which were used for cooking and manufacturing goods.

Numerous fragments of pottery and other household items such as rudimentary spindles we also found.

Bronze Age village found near Roman city of Aquileia
Ceramics discovered at the Bronze Age settlement near the 
Roman city of Aquileia [Credit: University of Udine]
“The objects provide important information about the villagers' lifestyle and reveal much about ways in which people came together,” Elisabetta Borgna, who led the excavation, told Corriere.

Based on the artefacts found at the site, experts say the settlement existed for some 300 years between 1500BC and 1200BC, during which time it is thought to have been a key trading point - much like the later Roman town on Aquileia – which followed it.

“We think that during the middle Bronze Age the villagers got together with other groups from nearby settlements on convivial occasions, when trade would take place,” Borgna said.

The discovery represents another tantalizing challenge for archaeologists in the region, who have until now only excavated a fraction of the ancient Aquileia.

Bronze Age village found near Roman city of Aquileia
The archaeological site of Aquileia 
[Credit: University of Udine]
Research has now moved out of the field and into the laboratories at the University of Udine, where fragments of organic matter found at the site are being analyzed to try to discover how the villagers ate.

The numerous samples of pottery are also being analyzed and accurately dated in a bid to reveal more information about the cultural exchanges which were taking place, 1,000 years before the Roman colony was founded.

Source: The Local [January 14, 2016]

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