Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a 6,500-year-old farming settlement in an antiquities-rich area of central Greece.
The finds include remains of houses built of wood and unbaked clay bricks, together with pottery vases, ovens and stone tools, the Culture Ministry announced Thursday.
The Neolithic-era remains were discovered during work to lay a gas pipe near the village of Vassili in Thessaly, some 170 miles (280 kilometers) north of Athens.
Thessaly's fertile plains attracted some of Greece's first farmers, and the ruins of several large, thriving settlements have been excavated in the area over the past 150 years.
The ministry announcement said the settlement was destroyed by fire, which baked and hardened the clay parts of the houses and preserved imprints of their wooden sections — which included sawed planks.
"(The imprints) bear testimony to the advanced skills of the people," the statement said.
The buildings had walls made of branches covered with clay, supported by strong wooden posts, and clay-covered roofs.
Among the ruins, archaeologists found large quantities of pottery, including many painted vases, stone axes and scrapers, bone tools and a small number of terracotta figurines.
More than 4,000 years after the settlement was abandoned, the low mound that covered it was used as a small cemetery, where 15 graves dating from the fourth to the first centuries B.C. were excavated.
The ministry said archaeologists planned to analyze organic finds, such as seeds and pollen grains, from the site to study environmental conditions in the early 5th millennium B.C.
Last month, archaeologists in northern Greece unearthed a 6,000 year-old set of household gear, including crockery and two wood-fired ovens, in the buried ruins of a Neolithic farmhouse.