Giant Kidney Worms: Bronze Agers Had Them

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Parasites aplenty riddled humans and their dogs at a swampy site in Bronze Age England. From left: Microscopic eggs of a fish tapeworm, giant kidney worm and Echinostoma worm found in ancient feces from the Must Farm site. (Black scale bar represents 20 micrometers.) (Credit: M. Ledger, Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University)

Unusual Parasites Plagued Bronze Age Fen Folk And Their Dogs

by Gemma Tarlach – Discover

Around 3,000 years ago, people were going about their business in a marshy corner of eastern England known as The Fens.

These Fenland folk had just built their settlement over a slow-moving river channel, sinking wooden stilts for homes deep into the squishy soil. They had erected a wooden palisade around it all, creating as comfortable a gated community as one might imagine possible in a setting that was, well, a bit swampy.

Then, one day, less than a year after construction, fire consumed the entire settlement. The homes, the stilts and the palisade burned and quickly collapsed into the river. Of course, as soon as the flames hit the water, they fizzled out.

It was a terrible event for the people who lived there, and likely fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. But the settlement’s collapse, and subsequent burial in layers of silt, would be a gift to modern archaeology, preserving an incredible wealth of detail about how the fen folk lived.

Known today as Must Farm, and sometimes called Britain’s Pompeii, the doomed Late Bronze Age settlement has opened an unprecedented window into the past in the two decades since its discovery.

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