Archeologists from the University of Cambridge have discovered the amazingly well-preserved remains of a Bronze Age village at a quarry site in eastern England’s Peterborough. “This is a world full of swords and spears,” said site director, Mark Knight. “It is not entirely a friendly place.”

“The remains of the large wooden houses, built on stilts in a waterlogged fenland site beside the ancient course of the river Nene, are the best preserved Bronze Age dwellings ever found in Britain,” reports the Guardian. “The most poignant object, suggesting that the last meal in the house was abandoned as the owners fled, was a cooking pot containing a wooden spoon and the remains of food calcified from the heat of the fire.”

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The cause of the fire is still being determined by forensic experts, but Knight speculates on a range of igniters—anything from a cooking accident to an attack. What is clear: “These people were rich, they wanted for absolutely nothing. The site is so rich in material goods we have to look now at other bronze age sites where very little was found, and ask if they were once equally rich but have been stripped,” Knight says.

Based on the food remains found in the home (the meat was mostly land-dwelling animals, not seafood), the archeologists also suspect that the homes were built over a waterway not for fishing, but to control boat transit.

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Either way, it’s a hell of a find: “We’re used to finding a bit of pottery and trying to reconstruct a civilization from that. Here we’ve got the lot,” Knight said. “We should be able to find out what they wore, what they ate and how they cooked it, the table they ate off and the chairs they sat on.”

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“It feels almost rude to be intruding,” he remarked. “It doesn’t feel like archaeology any more, it feels like somebody’s house has burned down and we’re going in and picking over their goods.”


Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.

Image via the Cambridge Archaeological Unit.