Clip | After Stonehenge - Discovery of the Must Farm, the ‘British Pompeii’

An ancient lump of timber spotted in a quarry in southern England leads to a massive archaeological excavation that reveals a prehistoric village, perfectly preserved in mud and silt.

The village was built at least 1,000 years after Stonehenge was erected.

During this same era in Egypt, the pyramids were completed and the golden era of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun came to an end.

Were villages like this isolated places, with inhabitants living difficult and primitive lives?

This dig may answer these questions. So experts from around the country will join the team to unlock its secrets.

Secrets of the Dead: After Stonehenge premieres Wednesday, October 26 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

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NARRATOR: AN ANCIENT LUMP OF TIMBER SPOTTED IN A QUARRY IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND LEADS TO A MASSIVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION THAT REVEALS A PREHISTORIC VILLAGE PERFECTLY PRESERVED IN MUD AND SILT.

THE SITE IS SO EXTRAORDINARY IT'S BEEN CALLED THE BRITISH POMPEII.

MAN: THIS IS THE CROWN JEWELS IN TERMS OF WHAT IT CAN TELL US ABOUT PAST HUMANITIES, THE WAY PEOPLE LIVED IN THIS LANDSCAPE 3,000 YEARS AGO.

NARRATOR: THE VILLAGE WAS BUILT AT LEAST 1,000 YEARS AFTER STONEHENGE WAS ERECTED.

DURING THIS SAME ERA IN EGYPT, THE PYRAMIDS WERE COMPLETED, AND THE GOLDEN ERA OF AKHENATON AND TUTANKHAMEN CAME TO AN END.

YET LITTLE IS KNOWN ABOUT WHAT LIFE IN EUROPE WAS LIKE AT THIS TIME.

WERE VILLAGES LIKE THIS ISOLATED PLACES, WITH INHABITANTS LIVING DIFFICULT AND PRIMITIVE LIVES?

THIS DIG MAY ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS.

SO, EXPERTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY WILL JOIN THE TEAM TO UNLOCK ITS SECRETS.

WOMAN: FOR ME, IT'S JUST SO AMAZING TO BE PART OF THIS AND IT'S EXCITING.

IT'S, YOU KNOW, IT'S A MOMENT IN TIME THAT'S BEEN CAPTURED.

NARRATOR: FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER ON A DIG OF THIS SCALE AND COMPLEXITY, THE TEAM IS MAPPING THE ENTIRE SITE TO ENSURE NO EVIDENCE IS LOST.

MAN: THERE'S A BOWL HERE, THERE'S A BOWL THERE, THERE'S A BOWL THERE, THERE'S A COLLAPSED STORAGE VESSEL JUST THERE.

NARRATOR: THEY'RE USING EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY TO INVESTIGATE WHAT LIFE WAS REALLY LIKE.

THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLE.

FAR FROM BEING PRIMITIVE, IT SEEMS THE EUROPEAN BRONZE AGE SAW THE BEGINNINGS OF INDUSTRY, WEALTH, URBAN LIVING, INTERNATIONAL TRADE, AND WAR.

WOMAN: YESTERDAY, WE FOUND A BRONZE SWORD.

NARRATOR: BUT AT THE HEART OF THIS DISCOVERY LIES A MYSTERY.

THIS VILLAGE WAS WIPED OUT BY A SUDDEN CATASTROPHIC EVENT.

MAN: THE FACT THAT THAT CONTAINED THEIR FOOD SUGGESTS THAT THE FIRE EVENT TOOK THEM BY SURPRISE.

IT WASN'T PLANNED.

NARRATOR: OVER THE NEXT 10 MONTHS, THESE ARCHAEOLOGISTS HOPE TO FIND OUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO THIS VILLAGE.

THE EVIDENCE THEY FIND WILL SHED LIGHT ON THE ROOTS OF EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION AND THE WORLD WE LIVE IN TODAY.