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New finds at Britain's Bronze Age 'Pompeii'

A tiny wooden box with its contents still inside, an intact pot and animal bones are some of the first items unearthed inside a roundhouse at what has been dubbed "Britain's Pompeii".

New finds at Britain's Bronze Age 'Pompeii'
Archaeologists said they were "thrilled" to find the well-preserved 
wooden box inside one of the roundhouses 
[Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit]
The UK's "best preserved Bronze Age dwellings", found at a Cambridgeshire quarry, date from about 1,000-800 BC.

They were preserved in silt after falling into a river during a fire.

The "delicate task" to uncover the contents has just begun but the finds have been called "amazing artefacts".

New finds at Britain's Bronze Age 'Pompeii'
A cluster of animal and fish bones could have been kitchen waste, archaeologists said 
[Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit]
The two or three circular wooden houses uncovered by archaeologists were built on stilts, and formed part of a settlement partially destroyed by fire 3,000 years ago.

The site, at Must Farm quarry near Whittlesey, has been described as "unique" by David Gibson, from Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which is leading the excavation.

Most Bronze Age sites have no timber remaining, just post-holes - but here, the stilts, roof structure and walls have been unearthed.

New finds at Britain's Bronze Age 'Pompeii'
Using a specially-built wet sieving station the team can examine sediment
 from inside one of the houses and ensure that "even the tiniest 
vertebrate remains and glass beads" can be recovered 
[Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit]
It is thought the roof fell in during the fire, covering the contents of the houses. Much would have been preserved as it sank into the Fenland silt.

Only a small section of one of the house interiors is being examined at the moment. One of the first items found was "a very small, delicate wooden box that is mostly complete".

Archaeologists said they were "thrilled" to discover such a well-preserved artefact. The contents appear to be inside still, but work to examine what those might be will not take place until next week.

New finds at Britain's Bronze Age 'Pompeii'
A wooden bowl or bucket base together with pottery have been 
found in the occupation deposit beneath the roof 
[Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit]
An intact "fineware" pot and animal bones have also been found, all of which must be "meticulously" cleaned and documented.

The "cluster" of fish and animal bones uncovered inside "could have been the kitchen waste of the time," they said.

The team is currently about half-way through the eight-month dig to uncover the secrets of the site and the people who lived there.

New finds at Britain's Bronze Age 'Pompeii'
Archaeologists began looking beneath the roof for the house's contents (left)
 after documenting more than 1,000 timber pieces (right) 
[Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit]
Although they are in the very early stages of examining the house interior, the quality and quantity of what has been uncovered so far has left archaeologists "very excited".

The site has the "potential for more uncommon household objects including tools, cutlery and even furniture," they said.

The excavation is being jointly funded by Historic England and quarry owner Forterra.

Source: BBC News Website [February 06, 2016]

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