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Buried in sand in 3500BC

3 October 2010

Another very good archaeological story turned up today, a house that was buried by sand in around 3500BC (calibrated date) – see www.newsinenglish.no/2010.10.01/archaeologists-find-mini-pompeii/ and assumed to have been overcome in a sandstorm (of all things). A huge wave of water and sand is more likely, the kind of thing that shifts dunes of sand around the bottom of the North Sea. The clue may lie in the date, uncalibrated it would be very close to 3200BC – and a date associated with anomalies in sea level at various locations around the bowl of the North Sea. The house, in southern Norway, is completely pristine and is exciting archaeologists as the finds are preserved so well, as if they had been buried intact during the intervening years, swallowed by a sand dune. Neolithic Funnel Beakers are usually found in pieces and have to be laboriously pieced together. At this site they are virtually in one piece. As a result of glacial bounce the house is now eleven metres above modern sea level. At the time it thrived it was at the ocean edge and near the mouth of a river. During the Ice Age glaciers suppressed Scandinavia and since the end of the Ice Age the landmass has been bouncing back up, a well known geological process. This is the assumption and the working model the archaeologists will adher to – and probably think nothing else of the anomaly. It has a geological explanation. Hopefully, excavations may reveal some more information about when such adjustments to sea level occurred – something similar is happening in the Orkneys. Even more interesting will be a definite dating of the event that swamped the house in sand – in calendar years. Note that 3500BC corresponds with a series of other anomalies – the raising of the Peruvian Andes, the freezing of Oetzi in the Alps, the drowning of estuaries around the coast of Britain and a switch from meadows and fields to a waterlogged landscape in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

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