In rare instances prehistoric peoples and/or their most fragile creations are preserved when they become accidentally or intentionally entombed in environments that have remained constantly wet, dry, or frozen. The finds are particularly informative when skeletons retain flesh, internal organs, and clothes, and when they are accompanied by items of personal adornment or weaponry made of wood, cordage or bone in addition to the more common stone and pottery objects. Well-known examples of this kind of survival include the bog-bodies of northern Europe, the Iceman of the Alps, Egyptian and Peruvian mummies, Swiss lake settlements, and in North America, the Ozette Village on the Olympic Peninsula, and Key Marco on Florida’s lower Gulf Coast. These organic materials provide an invaluable window on the past, yet the fact that wetlands contain thousands of years of environmental and cultural history has not risen to the consciousness of the public, the scientific community, or governments. These twenty-seven papers on wetland research across the world, from America, Europe and Australasia, aim to raise the profile of these fragile environments and the potential they have for shedding light on the past.
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