Archaeologists in Norway have found a Stone Age dwelling site they believe was covered suddenly, possibly in a sandstorm, leaving the house in a state of unprecedented preservation. The find is described as a “sensation.”
A Norwegian website reports the house was “sealed” in a way similar to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was covered by pyroclastic flows in a very short time in 79 A.D. and preserved for posterity by the lava.
Spokesman for the excavation in Hamresanden, near Kristiansand in Southern Norway, assistant professor Håkon Glørstad, said:
“This is an archaeological sensation.”
“This is the first time we’ve made a find like this in Norway. Usually, clay pots from this period, which we call traktbegerkulturen, (literally, “the funnel beaker culture”) are broken and in tiny pieces.” “Here we find them almost intact. One entirely complete vessel, 25 to 30 cm deep, with a 35-cm diameter at the rim, has been taken out of the ground packed in its clod of soil.”
Glørstad explained the pottery finds would be:
“Carefully and finally stripped of the last of the earth, in about the same way that one uncovers a dinosaur skeleton.”
The archaeologists said so many large pottery shards had been discovered, he thought as many as eight beaker-shaped vessels could be reconstructed.
The site dates from 5,500 years ago, and is about 80 metres from the present-day shoreline. The Funnelbeaker Culture in Europe lasted from 4,000 to 2,400 B.C. and covered parts of northern Europe and Scandinavia. The finds are two meters below ground. Glørstad said the climate had changed in the long interval between the building of the house and the present:
“During this period, Norway was much drier than today, and sandstorms were far from rare, as various strata of sand deposits at the site show. Last year’s pilot survey suggested that we might find something here. The site is ideally situated for a coastal settlement, next to the mouth of a river of significant proportions.”
The site revealed not only pottery. Glørstad said the team had found some 20 arrowheads and tailings from tool production, and also rare “complete wooden artefacts.”
It is hoped the excavations will increase knowledge not only about the inhabitants, but also about geological changes. When the site was covered up, it was nine meters lower than today and the Oslo area was 37 meters (about 112 feet) lower than at present due to the heavy Ice Age covering.