|13 December 2016
Burnt Iron Age house unearthed in Denmark
Whether the fire was accidental or purposeful, it was fierce. "Virtually nothing survived," says Mikkel Kieldsen, an archaeologist with Viborg Museum (Denmark), who is leading the excavation. "They would have had to leave everything behind as it was.
Kieldsen explains: "Six months ago, a boy came in with some shards of pottery that were clearly from the Iron Age. But there was no trace of fire on them, so we thought it was a grave in a field that had been ploughed. But then last year, some shards showed up with traces of fire on them. So with that, we thought that it might come from the remnants of a house."
Full scale excavation began in October. At 18 metres long by 5.5 metres wide, the house was larger than the typical Iron Age home. "The size of the house indicates that there were between seven and ten family members with living quarters in the west and animals in the east. The length of the house could indicate that they had more animals than is usual," says Kieldsen.
Remnants of old animal stalls were uncovered in the eastern end of the house. "The stalls were 80 to 90 centimetres wide, and for smaller animals than we have today. They might've been goats or pigs," Kieldsen adds.
The house dates to around 100 CE. Finds include three clay pots, and some unidentified rusted objects. X-ray analyses may help archaeologists work out what these metal objects were.
Kieldsen reveals: "When you stand here, you come very close to the people who once lived in the house. You can see precisely where their ceramics once stood with their contents. Next to the stone mortar there's a container, which is now broken. They've stood and crushed ingredients in the stone and then placed it in the container, which then went into the fireplace."
"Without the fire, we couldn't have seen these unique details. It preserved the house exactly as it was used in the Iron Age", concludes Kieldsen.
Edited from ScienceNordic (27 November 2016)
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