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La Marmotta

12 June 2015

La Marmotta harbours a Neolithic settlement, submerged in the waters of Lake Bracciano 57km north of Rome. The emperor Trajan had an aqueduct built to bring water from the lake to Rome which was in use over a long period of time. In 1612 Pope Pius V had the aqueduct repaired and it remained in use until 1989 when the city's water authority decided to add a new aqueduct. Tis was when  the lake dwellings were discovered – a village on stilts on the lake margins.

Lake levels have dramatically changed since the lake dwelling was in use, for a variety of reasons, The area was attractive to early farmers as mineral rich volcanic soil enriched the fertility. Nearby high ground was covered in oak forest with some ash and a river ran down to the coast.

The Neolithic settlement was buried under 3m thick silt deposit which has preserved the remains. Some 100,000  artefacts were recovered over a 20 year period of excavation, working in a difficult environment. There was evidence of a great fire that swept through the village and left it deserted – accidental or otherwise. The settlement was then swiftly buried beneath the mud. C14 dates of oak pilings came up with a date between 5690  and 52600BC – so it was thriving in the Mid Holocene Warm Period.

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