A prehistoric village has been unearthed in Italy, more than 3,500 years after it was buried by Mount Vesuvius, the same way the Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed centuries later.

Experts call the find at Nola, near Naples, ?sensational? and say the site could be the world?s best preserved early Bronze Age village. Professor Stefano De Caro, the head archaeologist for the area, says it?s a ?new Pompeii,? with everyday life frozen in a suspended state, just as it was in Pompeii in 79 AD.

The site is north of both Pompeii and Vesuvius, and it looks as if the community was thriving when it was surprised by the eruption. ?We knew that Vesuvius erupted a number of times, before and after Pompeii, including in particular in about 1750 BC,? says De Caro.

Wooden structures in the village were destroyed by the heat but the mud that filled the buildings created a natural mold, revealing everything that was inside them. ?What we found was a plaster-cast mold?of the village in reverse,? De Caro says. ?It was very emotional to see and very instructive. Before this we had only holes in the ground where stakes had been, to show us what a Bronze Age village had been like. It is also the first time we have found such detail, and the first site where we have found everything together – the dead, the living, dwellings, crafts, customs, food.?

Among the items found were the bones of hams, a hat decorated with the teeth of a wild boar and a cage which had been raised six feet off the ground – probably to protect it from dogs ? that contained the remains of pregnant goats. ?We also found a kiln with a pot still inside it that was being fired,? says De Caro. ?In other words, we found life in progress.?

In the remains of the later destruction of the city of Pompeii, there are human bodies that were covered with lava, frozen in the act of trying to escape from the volcano. Archaeologists now believe that a man and a woman whose skeletons were dug up five years ago in the area of this new discovery were the remains of people trying to escape from the prehistoric village during the eruption that occurred then.

To learn more about this, read ?Catastrophobia? by Barbara Hand Clow,click here.

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