Science

Bronze Age settlement compared to Pompeii in Must Farm Quarry

Excavation of a prehistoric settlement in Must Farm Quarry, Cambridgeshire, reveals a Bronze Age homestead similar to Pompeii, occupied for less than a year before burning down in 850 BC, with thousands of well-preserved artifacts providing insight into the daily lives of its inhabitants.

At a glance

  • Must Farm Quarry settlement compared to Pompeii, occupied for less than a year before burning down in 850 BC
  • Environmental analysis shows vegetation cushioned falling material, preserving thousands of objects
  • The settlement had advanced technology, including multi-tool axes and stacked pots.
  • 18,000 structural timbers recorded, indicating a close-knit community of 9 or 10 homes
  • Excavation project to display objects in exhibition at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery

The details

A prehistoric settlement in Must Farm Quarry, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, has been compared to Pompeii as it was occupied for less than a year before burning down in 850 BC. The Bronze Age homestead consisted of around ten circular wooden houses on stilts, potentially housing 50 to 60 people.

The cause of the blaze remains unknown, with theories suggesting it could have been an attack or accidental in nature.

Environmental analysis of the site has revealed that the vegetation surrounding the settlement helped cushion falling material, resulting in items landing directly underneath where they were stored in the houses.

The combination of charring and waterlogging caused thousands of objects to survive, including almost 200 wooden artifacts, 150 fiber and textile items, 128 pottery vessels, and 90 pieces of metalwork.

The site is believed to have been occupied for approximately nine months to a year before the fire, with the wood used to build the homes described as “still green.” Evidence suggests that people threw rubbish from their doorways, creating rings around the structures.

The short-lived nature of the settlement is attributed to the lack of butchered animal bones and broken pots found on the site.

Despite its brief existence, the settlement has been described as an “amazing time capsule” due to the sophisticated level of technology found.

Axes were created like multi-tools, pots were designed to be stacked, and a bucket for recycling metal was discovered in one of the houses.

The settlement’s inhabitants enjoyed meaty stews thickened with wheat and potentially seasoned with spices.

More than 18,000 structural timbers have been recorded at the site, indicating the presence of 9 or 10 homes, each housing a family or extended family.

The buildings were tightly packed together, suggesting a close-knit community.

Although weapons such as spears and swords were found at the site, no human remains connected to the fire have been discovered.

The excavation project at Must Farm Quarry is described as a comprehensive investigation into the prehistoric site, with the objects unearthed set to be displayed in an exhibition at the Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery.

In a separate study coordinated by the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, research into Stone Age populations in Scandinavia has revealed that bacterial diseases were a significant threat to individuals during that time.

Diseases causing meningitis and food poisoning were fatal without antibiotics, with Neisseria meningitidis, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Salmonella enterica found in individuals from both farmer and hunter-gatherer contexts.

By analyzing microbial DNA found in the remains of infected humans, researchers were able to trace the presence of bacterial diseases and their potential impact on the transition from hunting-gathering to farming lifestyles.

Infections spread through food were found to be the most prominent across the different lifestyles studied.

Led by Anders Götherström, the research project aims to explore prehistoric societies through the lens of bacterial diseases, shedding light on the health challenges faced by ancient Scandinavian populations.

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Facts attribution

This section links each of the article’s facts back to its original source.

If you suspect false information in the article, you can use this section to investigate where it came from.

independent.co.uk
– Prehistoric settlement compared to Pompeii occupied for less than a year before burning down
– Bronze Age homestead had around 10 circular wooden houses on stilts
– Potentially had 50 to 60 people living there
– Cause of blaze in 850BC unknown, could have been an attack or accidental
– Must Farm Quarry excavation site in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire
– Environmental analysis shows vegetation helped cushion falling material
– Items landed directly underneath where they were stored in houses
– Charring and waterlogging caused thousands of objects to survive
– Almost 200 wooden artefacts, 150 fibre and textile items, 128 pottery vessels, 90 pieces of metalwork found
– Site believed to have been occupied for 9 months to a year before fire
– Wood used to build homes was “still green”
– People threw rubbish from doorways, creating rings around structures
– Settlement was short-lived due to lack of butchered animal bone and broken pots
– Site described as an “amazing time capsule”
– Sophisticated level of technology found at site
– Axes created like a multi-tool, pots designed to be stacked
– Bucket for recycling metal found in one of the houses
– Meaty stews thickened with wheat, potentially seasoned with spices
– More than 18,000 structural timbers recorded
– Estimated 9 or 10 homes, each housing a family or extended family
– Buildings were tightly packed together
– Potential for violent time in Bronze Age, spears and swords found
– No human remains connected to fire found
– Project described as comprehensive investigation into prehistoric site
– Objects from dig to be displayed in exhibition at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery
scitechdaily.com
– Stone Age populations in Scandinavia suffered and often died from bacterial diseases
– Diseases causing meningitis and food poisoning were fatal without antibiotics
– Study coordinated from the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm explores microbes during the Stone Age in Scandinavia
– Neisseria meningitidis, Yersinia entrecolitica, and Salmonella enterica were found in individuals
– Bacterial diseases found in individuals from farmer and hunter-gatherer contexts
– Microbial DNA found in remains of infected humans used to trace bacterial diseases
– Transition from hunting-gathering to farming lifestyle reflected in bacterial diseases
– Potential impact of lifestyle change on general health still unknown
– Infections spread through food were most prominent across lifestyles in the study
– Research project led by Anders Götherström aims to explore prehistoric societies through bacterial diseases.

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