Earliest archaeological evidence in London could have been found at new US Embassy

By Ben Miller | 22 May 2014

An archaeological survey of the new US Embassy could have uncovered the earliest signs of life in London

A photo of three prehistoric grey flint tool jagged artefacts
A Palaeolithic flint from London could date from hundreds of thousands of years ago© MOLA / Andy Chopping
At a south London site where a river and islands made of sand and gravel once stood, archaeologists have found flint tools from as long as 700,000 years ago during survey work on the capital’s new US Embassy.

A 12-metre long prehistoric fish trap and evidence of camp fires have also been found among a range of Mesolithic and Bronze Age artefacts. The islands were once large and dry enough for prehistoric settlers, with fertile marsh banks offering rich food sources and productive hunting grounds.

“Prehistoric sites are rare in London owing to their ephemeral nature as well as urban development,” says Kasia Olchowska, a Senior Archaeologist for Museum of London Archaeology.

“What we have found may be the earliest archaeological evidence currently known from London.

“Further analysis will involve several diagnostic tests which can be applied to confirm the age of the artefact.

“These tests relate to shape, measurements and manufacture technique and involve comparing the artefact to other known flint tool types.

“It will be interesting to see how this evidence relates to other prehistoric structures on the nearby Thames foreshore.

“We hope to be able to reconstruct and have a better understanding of the prehistoric landscape of a much wider area than at present.”

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