The submerged ancient settlement of La Marmotta: unique finds under water

Underwater archaeologists in Italy continue to explore the submerged ancient settlement of La Marmotta, located at the bottom of a lake in the municipality of Anguillara-Sabazia. Discovered back in 1989, the site is still the object of underwater excavations. The ruins of a town founded in the early Neolithic period on the shores of a large lake are at a depth of 11 meters and are about 300 meters from the shoreline.

For two decades, archaeologists have gathered an unprecedented amount of information about the Neolithic and Bronze Age societies that lived there. More than a dozen structures have already been discovered at La Marmotte, as well as unique fabrics, wickerwork and rope, as well as the tools that were used to make them.

One of the most interesting finds is the textile products that were made from plant fibers. These are surprisingly well preserved, even though they must have decayed over more than two millennia. Careful examination with a binocular microscope made it clear that the fabrics were made of linen. It was a very common material, widely used by ancient cultures.

In addition, 43 fragments of wicker products were raised from the bottom, and 28 fragments of cords and ropes were identified. Underwater archaeologists also found thousands of wooden piles and poles and the remains of at least 13 dwellings. The latter had a regular rectangular shape, reaching a length of ten meters and a width of six meters. They had an inner partition and a central hearth.

Why the La Marmotta settlement was abandoned, however, is still a mystery to scientists. “Whatever the reason, the inhabitants left all their possessions behind, including tools, cooking vessels and boats,” the researchers write in their paper. “It was also found that numerous building elements and wooden objects had been burned, similar to what has been observed in other flooded villages.”

Future geomorphological studies may help to determine exactly what happened at the end of the period of settlement of this site. Overall, the finds from La Marmotta provide unique material for the study of ancient cultures and human life in the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

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