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14 December 2008
Archaeologists find piece of string dating back 8,000 years

The fibres were discovered in a flooded Stone Age settlement just off the coast of the Isle of Wight (Great Britain). The four-and-a-half inch long string was made from tough stems of honeysuckle, nettles or wild clematis that were twisted together.
     Marine archaeologists discovered it when they found a prehistoric camp 30 feet below the surface, 200 yards off the Isle of Wight. The team, led by Gary Momber of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology, cut small blocks of the sea floor out for analysis after seeing the wooded remains of the settlement by chance. The string was buried in one of them.
     The find is remarkable because the fibres, made of organic matter, would usually decay quite quickly. Now the results have been published in British Archaeology magazine. Editor Mike Pitts described it as a 'fantastic find'. He said: "I don't think the average person realises what an important piece of technology string has been over the ages."
     Experts believe the settlement was flooded at the end of the last ice age, when glacial sheets that covered most of Europe, including Britain from the Midlands northwards, melted. Jan Gillespie, of Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology, said: "The string was found with wooden planks and stakes and some pits containing burnt flint. We believe they may have been heated up to help work timber into boats."

Source: Telegraph.co.uk (8 December 2008)

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