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Sunken Settlements – Comparing lost treasures of Ancient Egypt and Bronze Age Peterborough

Hampton Vale recently received Heritage Lottery Funding for Year 6 pupils to complete a project studying two submerged ancient Egyptian cities in the Mediterranean along with Peterborough's own submerged Bronze Age Settlement near Flag Fen.

Photo credit: Christoph Gerigk/Copyright: Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

In 2015 Cambridge University Archaeological Unit continued their excavation of a Bronze Age site near Peterborough at Must Farm. They uncovered remarkable artefacts buried in the mud of a riverbank into which a burning roundhouse built on stilts had collapsed between 1000 and 800 BC. The mud preserved organic material that would otherwise have rotted such as log boats, food remnants and textiles. The site has been dubbed Britain's Pompeii. 

Photo credit: Dr Coleen Morgan

For a summary of the historical background to the excavation by Andrew Wrenn, Fellow of the Historical Association, please refer and download the document entitled 'Sunken Settlements Must Farm Bronze Age settlement Historical background' below.

In 2016 French archaeologist Franck Goddio and the Hilti Foundation supported the British Museum in organising a world class exhibition "Sunken cities; Egypt's lost worlds". This included often colossal artefacts lifted off the Mediterranean Sea bed near Alexandria in Egypt from the previously lost sites of the cities of Thion-Heracleion and Canopus, dating from the first millennium BC. 

For a summary of the historical background to the excavation by Dr Corrine Duhig, Senior Fellow, Mcdonald Institute for Archaeological Reserarch, Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge and an associate of Civilizations in Contact, a charitable trust linked to the university, please refer and download the document entitled 'Sunken Settlements Thion-Heracleion Historical background' below.

While separated by thousands of miles and with huge differences in culture, the Must Farm site and those of the lost Egyptian cities both owe their survival to underwater burial and the efforts of modern archaeologists to uncover their treasure. These  similarities inspired Hampton Vale Primary School to successfully apply for a Heritage lottery fund grant with support from Andrew Wrenn for Year 6 pupils to study both sunken settlements.

The funding paid for;

  • A visit by Year Six pupils to the British Museum exhibition in London
Photo credit: Ham
  • A visit by Year Six pupils to Flag Fen Archaeological Park (near Must Farm, Peterborough) where they viewed log boats being carefully preserved from the dig and remains of the Flag Fen timber platform, handled real artefacts, made clay pots and heard stories told around the fire in the replica Bronze Age roundhouse

  • The creation of loan boxes of real and replica Bronze Age artefacts buried in moist Peat to imitate the mud at Must Farm and which can be freely borrowed from Hampton Vale Primary School.

  •  A collapsed day in school where Year Six pupils took part in mock excavations using the loan boxes and in activities organised by staff from the Maritime Archaeological Trust whose touring bus visited the school from Portsmouth.

  •  CPD be held for local teachers
  • Creation of a pop-up museum incorporating pupil work
  • Production of academic summaries for teachers explaining the historic background to each excavation
  • A scheme of work and accompanying resources to be published on the schools website and the national website of the Historical Association.

To find out more about the scheme of work and access resources, please click here.