Archaeology has long been a fascinating field for uncovering the secrets of ancient civilizations, but the role of chance in these discoveries cannot be underestimated. Often, it is farmers or construction crews who accidentally stumble upon something of great value, leading to further exploration by trained professionals. One such example of chance leading to an important discovery is Skara Brae, an underground city found in Scotland.
Skara Brae was initially discovered in 1850 by a local landowner who found a collection of ancient artifacts after a storm had exposed them. However, it was not until 1925 that the full extent of the settlement was revealed. Excavations by archaeologists uncovered a well-preserved prehistoric village consisting of eight stone houses connected by tunnels, with each residence having a larger bed than the others. The village is estimated to have been inhabited between 3180 and 2500 BC and is thought to be one of the oldest agricultural villages ever found.
The village was found to be well-preserved due to its surrounding sand and architecture, with the buildings and their contents remarkably preserved over the millennia. Each room in the houses had lockers, bureaus, seats, and waterproof storage boxes, which were likely used to preserve seafood. The fact that the storage boxes were waterproof indicates that the inhabitants likely kept live seafood inside their homes, which they would consume later.
In conclusion, Skara Brae is an excellent example of the role that chance plays in the discovery of archaeological sites and portable finds. The accidental exposure of the settlement due to a storm revealed an underground city that was well-preserved and offered valuable insights into the lives of prehistoric people. The settlement's inhabitants likely used the storage boxes in their homes to preserve seafood, and the village's abandonment is thought to have been linked to climate change. Skara Brae remains an important archaeological site and serves as a reminder of the importance of chance in making significant discoveries.
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