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8 January 2014
Neolithic life in coastal Denmark

Excavations by Lolland-Falster Museum archaeologists are currently ongoing in advance of the upcoming construction of a new crossing from Denmark to Germany. Work began in August 2013, and since then an array of stunning archaeological finds have been recovered.
     The area was extremely attractive to a Neolithic population 5-6,000 years ago, as fishing in the low-lying and protected lagoon was a safe environment with rich marine resources. Included among some of the remarkably well preserved materials recovered from the site was part of a wattle fence from a fish trap.
     When excavation began, it quickly became apparent that the area had for many thousands of years often been inundated by the sea and a favoured settlement location. The water table lies only half a metre down and the Neolithic layer appears beneath this in an anaerobic and sealed environment that is favourable for the preservation of organic material.
     All these coastal settlement activities dated to the period 5000-3000 BCE, when agriculture first gained a foothold in Denmark.
Among the most spectacular finds was a section of paddle, jammed deep in the mud and snapped off at the handle, and an 86 cm long arrow that still bears traces of the pitch that held the feathers fletches in place. These finds east of Rødbyhavn suggest that the first farmers were also fishermen and coastal hunters. The unique findings will help to understand the shift from hunting to farming that happened around 4000 BCE.
     "This excavation provides a unique opportunity to gain an insight into prehistoric life and learn about the different activities that are going on in the area," said  archaeologist Lars Ewald Jensen from the Lolland-Falster Museum.

Edited from Past Horizons (3 January 2014)

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