‘Undiscovered Community’ From 3,000 Years Ago Uncovered In U.K.

Thousands of years ago, perhaps right as dinner was being served, a fire tore through a series of homes built on stilts above a river in what is today East Anglia, England.

The families fled, leaving everything behind as their homes collapsed into the river.

That long-ago tragedy has been a boon for researchers today. The water of the river put out the blaze, and the ruins were covered in silt as they sank into the riverbed, leading to what is now the best-preserved Bronze Age site in Britain.

Amazing Late Bronze Age roundhouses with roof structure and contents preserved @mustfarm, the Peterborough Pompeii. pic.twitter.com/HNuSnqyT80

— Duncan Wilson (@HE_ChiefExec) January 12, 2016

“A dramatic fire 3,000 years ago combined with subsequent waterlogged preservation has left to us a frozen moment in time, which gives us a graphic picture of life in the Bronze Age,” Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said in a news release.

This image shows the remains of one of the buildings. The wooden posts lined up on the right side formed a palisade while the posts in the center were the supports. The ones scattered about formed the roof and walls:

The remains, located at what is today an active quarry called Must Farm in Peterborough, are so well-preserved that it’s being compared to another ancient tragedy that has become a time capsule: Pompeii.

So far, archaeologists at the “Peterborough Pompeii” have uncovered jewelry, glass beads, textiles made from lime tree bark and jars — some of which contain the remains of meals served 3,000 years ago.

Peterborough Today reports that the ancient families had been dining on sheep and cattle, rather than fish from the river running just beneath them:

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