Three-thousand years ago, a Bronze Age village of circular wooden houses constructed on stilts sat along a river that once ran through the modern-day in eastern England—a marshy area that is subject to frequent floods. At some point, the village caught fire, and a number of the houses collapsed into the river. The items within these houses were submerged and entombed in the clay of the riverbed, preserving them to this day. University of Cambridge archaeologists, who are now working to excavate the site, have already taken to calling it "Britain's Pompeii."
"Usually at a Later Bronze Age period site you get pits, post-holes and maybe one or two really exciting metal finds," said David Gibson, Archaeological Manager at Cambridge University. "But this time so much more has been preserved – we can actually see everyday life during the Bronze Age in the round. It's prehistoric archaeology in 3D with an unsurpassed finds assemblage both in terms of range and quantity."
Items among the charred remains of houses include jewelry, spears, daggers, glass beads, a number of pieces of pottery and multiple textiles. It is rare to find anything more than fragments of items dating from the Bronze Age. Textiles that can help us learn how people dressed at the time are particularly rare.
The team of 14 researchers from Cambridge has been working to extract items from the site since August, and the site is still producing new surprises. Just a few weeks ago, researchers uncovered a human skull outside what they believe was the entryway to one of the houses. The skull could be the beginning of a complete skeleton, a wealth of information for researchers studying the evolution of human anatomy. Some of the food was even preserved as a glassy substance in the pots.
Archaeologists are now about halfway through their dig, and excavation is planned to resume in April. The items will then be preserved and put on public display or sent to research facilities.
Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, said in a : "A dramatic fire 3,000 years ago combined with subsequent waterlogged preservation has left to us a frozen moment in time, which gives us a graphic picture of life in the Bronze Age."
You can find a complete archive of the discoveries so far at the project .