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28 November 2001
"Sensational" Bronze Age village found near Pompeii

Italian archaeologists have found what might be the best preserved Bronze Age village in the world. The prehistoric settlement has been uncovered near Pompeii (Italy), more than 3,500 years after it was buried by Mount Vesuvius as the Roman city was centuries later.
      Experts called the find at Nola, near Naples, "sensational". The site is north of both Pompeii and Vesuvius, and suggests that the community was thriving when it was surprised by the eruption. Prof Stefano De Caro, archaeological superintendent for the province, said it was a "new Pompeii", with everyday life frozen in a suspended state, as it was in Pompeii in AD 79. "We knew that Vesuvius erupted a number of times, before and after Pompeii, including in particular in about 1750 BC," Prof De Caro said.
      Wooden structures in the village were destroyed by the heat but the mud that filled the buildings created a natural mould of everything they contained. "What we found was a plaster-cast mould, two or three metres high, of the village in reverse," Prof De Caro said. "It is the first site where we have found everything together - the dead, the living, dwellings, crafts, customs, food." Among the items found were the bones of hams, a hat decorated with the teeth of a wild boar and a cage which had been raised six feet off the ground - probably to protect it from dogs - containing the remains of pregnant goats. "We also found a kiln with a pot still inside it that was being fired," Prof De Caro said. "In other words, we found life in progress."
      Archaeologists believe that a man and a woman whose skeletons were dug up five years ago had been trying to escape from the village during the eruption.

Sources: Ananova, Daily Telegraph News (28 November 2001)

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