Olympic construction yields ancient goodies

Preparatory digs on the site of what in 2012 will be London’s Olympic Park have yielded all kinds of ancient artifacts and remains.

So far archaeologists have found a 4000-year-old flint axe, 4 Iron Age skeletons, medieval pottery, a 19th c. wooden boat, a 4th c. Roman coin, a Victorian cobblestone road, WWII gun embankments and more.

“We now know that the Olympic Park area was settled and utilised continuously from the prehistoric period onwards. These people lived and died here.”

The prehistoric skeletons were buried in graves around an area of Iron Age settlement, he said, and the boat was used for hunting wild fowl on the River Lea.

Mr Tyler added: “This new story of the Lea Valley is London before London – a previously unknown London.”

Unknown because what is now East London was outside the boundaries of the settlement and city for centuries. The Iron Age burials may indicate that the Lower Lea Valley area was actually settled before London proper was.

The range of artifacts is almost like a timeline of British history. The Museum of London is documenting and preserving the finds even as construction continues, and 1000 people have already visited the finds as part of an Olympic Delivery Authority community outreach program.