SCIENTISTS USE DNA FRAGMENTS TO TRACE THE MIGRATION OF MODERN HUMANS
Human beings may have made their first journey out of Africa as recently as 70,000 years ago, according to a new study by geneticists from Stanford University and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Writing in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the researchers estimate that the entire population of ancestral humans at the time of the African expansion consisted of only about 2,000 individuals.
"This estimate does not preclude the presence of other populations of Homo sapiens sapiens [modern humans] in Africa, although it suggests that they were probably isolated from one another genetically, and that contemporary worldwide populations descend from one or very few of those populations," said Marcus W. Feldman, the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor at Stanford and co-author of the study.
The small size of our ancestral population may explain why there is so little genetic variability in human DNA compared with that of chimpanzees and other closely related species, Feldman added.
The study, published in the May edition of the journal, is based on research conducted in Feldman`s Stanford laboratory in collaboration with co-authors Lev A. Zhivotovsky of the Russian Academy and former Stanford graduate student Noah A. Rosenberg, now at the University of Southern California.
"Our results are consistent with the `out-of-Africa` theory, according to which a sub-Saharan African ancestral population gave rise to all populations of anatomically modern humans through a chain of migrations to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Oceania and America," Feldman noted.
Since all human beings have virtually identical DNA, geneticists have to look for slight chemical variations that distinguish one population from another. One technique involves the use of "microsatellites" - short repetitive fragments of DNA whose patterns of variation differ among populations. Because microsatellites are passed from generation to generation and have a high mutation rate, they are a useful tool for estimating when two populations diverged.
In their study, the research team compared 377 microsatellite markers in DNA collected from 1,056 individuals representing 52 geographic sites in Africa, Eurasia (the Middle East, Europe, Central and South Asia), East Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Statistical analysis of the microsatellite data revealed a close genetic relationship between two hunter-gatherer populations in sub-Saharan Africa - the Mbuti pygmies of the Congo Basin and the Khoisan (or "bushmen") of Botswana and Namibia. These two populations "may represent the oldest branch of modern humans studied here," the authors concluded.
The data revealed a genetic split between the ancestors of these hunter-gatherer populations and the ancestors of contemporary African farming people - Bantu speakers who inhabit many countries in southern Africa. "This division occurred between 70,000 and 140,000 years ago and was followed by the expansion out of Africa into Eurasia, Oceania, East Asia and the Americas - in that order," Feldman said.
This result is consistent with an earlier study in which Feldman and others analyzed the Y chromosomes of more than 1,000 men from 21 different populations. In that study, the researchers concluded that the first human migration from Africa may have occurred roughly 66,000 years ago.
The research team also found that indigenous hunter-gatherer populations in Africa, the Americas and Oceania have experienced very little growth over time. "Hunting and gathering could not support a significant increase in population size," Feldman explained. "These populations probably underwent severe bottlenecks during which their numbers crashed - possibly because of limited resources, diseases and, in some cases, the effects of long-distance migrations."
Unlike hunter-gatherers, the ancestors of sub-Saharan African farming populations appear to have experienced a population expansion that started around 35,000 years ago: "This increase in population sizes might have been preceded by technological innovations that led to an increase in survival and then an increase in the overall birth rate," the authors wrote. The peoples of Eurasia and East Asia also show evidence of population expansion starting about 25,000 years ago, they added.
"The exciting thing about these data is that they are amenable to a combination of mathematical models and statistical analyses that can help solve problems that are important in paleontology, archaeology and anthropology," Feldman concluded.
The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.
By Mark Shwartz
CONTACT: Mark Shwartz, News Service: (650) 723-9296, email@example.com
COMMENT: Marc Feldman, Biological Sciences: (650) 725-1867, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORS: The study, "Features of Evolution and Expansion of Modern Humans, Inferred from Genomewide Microsatellite Markers," by Lev A. Zhivotovsky, Noah A. Rosenberg and Marcus W. Feldman, appears in the May 2003 edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics. A copy can be obtained from Professor Marc Feldman. His photo is available at http://newsphotos.stanford.edu (slug: "Humans_Feldman.jpg").
Relevant Web URLs:
'OLDEST SCULPTURE' FOUND IN MOROCCO
By Paul Rincon
A 400,000-year-old stone object unearthed in Morocco could be the world's oldest attempt at sculpture.
That is the claim of a prehistoric art specialist who says the ancient rock bears clear signs of modification by humans.
The object, which is around six centimetres in length, is shaped like a human figure, with grooves that suggest a neck, arms and legs. On its surface are flakes of a red substance that could be remnants of paint.
The object was found 15 metres below the eroded surface of a terrace on the north bank of the River Draa near the town of Tan-Tan. It was reportedly lying just a few centimetres away from stone handaxes in ground layers dating to the Middle Acheulian period, which lasted from 500,000 to 300,000 years ago.
The find is likely to further fuel a vociferous debate over the timing of humanity's discovery of symbolism. Hominids such as Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, that were alive during the Acheulian period, are not thought to have been capable of the symbolic thought needed to create art.
Writing in the journal Current Anthropology, Robert Bednarik, president of the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO), suggests that the overall shape of the Tan-Tan object was fashioned by natural processes.
But he argues that conspicuous grooves on the surface of the stone, which appear to emphasise its humanlike appearance, are partially man-made. Mr Bednarik claims that some of these grooves were made by repeated battering with a stone tool to connect up natural depressions in the rock.
"What we've got is a piece of stone that is largely naturally shaped.
"It has some modifications, but they are more than modifications," Mr Bednarik told BBC News Online.
Mr Bednarik tried to replicate the markings on a similar piece of rock by hitting a stone flake with a "hammerstone" in the manner of a punch. He then compared the microscopic structure of the fractures with those of the Tan-Tan object.
However, Professor Stanley Ambrose of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, US, said he saw no evidence for tool marks and that, although the figure was evocative, it was most likely the result of "fortuitous natural weathering".
"[Mr Bednarik] has effectively presented all the information necessary to show this is a naturally weathered rock," Professor Ambrose told BBC News Online.
Professor Ambrose points to Mr Bednarik's observation that some rocks in the vicinity of the figure were weathered and even rounded from transport by water. Professor Ambrose believes that rocks and artefacts found at the site could have been disturbed by flowing water in the past.
Mr Bednarik also observes that flecks of a greasy substance containing iron and manganese on the surface of the stone could be red ochre, a substance used as paint by later humans.
"They [the specks] do not resemble corroded natural iron deposits, nor has any trace of this pigment been detected on any of the other objects I have examined from Tan-Tan," writes Mr Bednarik in his paper.
A 200,000-300,000-year-old stone object found at Berekhat Ram in Israel in 1986 has also been the subject of claims that it is a figurine. However, several other researchers later presented evidence to show that it was probably shaped by geological processes.
The Tan-Tan object was discovered in 1999, during a dig directed by Lutz Fiedler, the state archaeologist of Hesse in Germany.
PRE-HISTORIC SITE IN DERA, PAKISTAN DISCOVERED
By A Correspondent
MULTAN, May 27: A Bahauddin Zakariya University PhD intern has discovered an archaeological site at Vohawa in Dera Ghazi Khan.
The intern, Zubair Shafi Ghauri, is doing research on 'Early and mature Harappan settlements along the dry bed of Bias'. The site that he claims to have discovered is Bugiwala in Basti Kutani, some 4km away from the ruins of Dhera in Mauza Dagarwali.
The ruins of Dhera are already on the list of Federal Archaeological Department as belonging to a period around 5000BC. The pottery found in the ruins is identical to that found in Mehargarh in Balochistan.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Ghauri said many of the pieces of pots he had found in Bugiwala were similar to the pottery found in the 'Hakarra' archaeological sites (2800-3500BC) but their inner texture and work were different from that of 'Hakarra' pottery.
He said what made the Bugiwala site more interesting was that it had some pottery pieces of 'Quetta wet-ware' and Kot Diji period as well.
He however said that it had yet to be determined if Bugiwala and Dhera were separate sites. He said the antiques found in Bugiwala were different from those found in Dhera.
Mr Ghauri is the divisional transportation officer of Pakistan Railways posted in Multan. He has a number of books and translation works in the subjects of history and archaeology to his credit.
BONES OF CAVEMEN WARRIORS FOUND IN SPAIN
May 27 2003 at 02:15PM
Barcelona - Spanish archaeologists on Tuesday announced that they had discovered the remains of about 160 early humans killed in a battle which raged more than four millennia ago.
Dolmens formed the entrance to a cave serving as a tomb which contained more than 25 000 human bones near Dosrius in the east of the country.
Archaeologists said most of the bones belonged to males and females aged between 12 and 20 years.
Almost 70 flint arrow heads were retrieved from the cave. The large number and young age of the humans interred there also led archaeologists to conclude that they had been killed in warfare.
The discovery was the first of its kind in Spain. Archaeologists excavated the cave in 1995, but it took eight years to date and to interpret the evidence. - Sapa-DPA
STONE AGE SKULL FOUND ON SCHOOL OUTING (NORWAY)
Students at Napp School in Lofoten had a field trip out of the ordinary when one alert 11-year-old spotted what turned out to be a human skull that may be between 5,000-6,000 years old. Archeologists from the Viking Museum in Borg were examining the find on Tuesday.
"Under a stone I saw something white. So I started to dig. I hit it a bit. It didn't sound like a stone. When I got it out I saw it was a skull," Aleksander Johansen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
"The skull is in exceptionally good condition. It's missing some teeth but is otherwise intact," said archeologist Geir Are Johnsen to Norwegian news bureau NTB.
The skull was found near a previous dig which in 1969-1971 uncovered three remnants from the late Stone Age, the oldest being dated to 3,100 B.C.
Johnsen doesn't rule out more intriguing finds being unearthed in the area and was especially pleased that it was an 11-year-old on a school outing that found the skull.
"It is hardly an everyday occurrence that you find a nearly intact skull that could be so ancient," Johnsen said.
RELICS OF FIRST IRON FOUNDRY ALONG YANGTZE RIVER FOUND
Archeologists have found the first relics of an iron casting workshop along the Yangtze River, datingback to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 BC-256 BC) and the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC).
Archeologists have found the first relics of an iron casting workshop along the Yangtze River, datingback to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 BC-256 BC) and the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC).
The relics were unearthed at a highway construction site in Yaojiawan in Qiantang village of Xishui county, in central China's Hubei province.
The soil layer with numerous red pottery pieces ranges between 150 and 250 centimeters in thickness, containing debris such as molds, red soil furnace walls, cinders, burnt chars and various forms of casting tools, according to Wu Xiaosong, curator of the Huanggang Municipal Museum in the province's Huanggang city on Tuesday.
Experts with the prestigious Beijing University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Science and Technology said after repeated studies that the molds were used in making iron appliances like kettles for daily use, though it has been generally acknowledged that iron was first widely used in making farming instruments and weaponry, Wu Xiaosong noted.
Experts are exploring residential and burial sites around the iron casting workshops, in a hope of further revealing ancient iron casting process and crafts.
Iron smelting and casting technologies were of great significance to production processes at ancient times. Ruins of mines have been found in Hubei province and its adjacent Hunan province.
The discovery of the foundry, the first of its kind along the Yangtze River, disclosed where the plentiful ore resources in the area finally went and the iron products might have been shipped through the Yangtze to other parts of China, said Li Taoyuan, a noted researcher with the Hubei Provincial Archeology Institute.
Ancient iron products are rarely found in archeological field work, since iron could be recast or destroyed by rust, Wu Xiaosongsaid.
Meanwhile, archeologists have excavated a wealth of iron casting relics along the Yellow River in northern China, but this is the first one spotted along the Yangtze River.
BODY IN A BOG FROM IRON AGE
A BOG body recently unearthed in Daingean, Co Offaly, may date back about 2,000 years.
Investigations by the National Museum show the find could be from the Iron Age - and it could prove to be of major international significance.
Its discovery follows a similar find in February in a bog near Ballivor in Co Meath.
Around one of the arms of the Daingean man is a band which the National Museum believes is iron or bronze and a stake appears to have been driven through one of the arms.
"The armband makes it fascinating. It would indicate he had some status.
"Only the higher echelons of society at that time would have worn jewellery.
"A bit of wood has been found in one of the perforations in his upper arm indicating he was pinned down," said Isabella Mulhall of the Museum's Antiquities Department
The headless torso from Daingean is currently in a freezer in the Museum while archaeologists carefully sift the peat around where it was uncovered.
While up to 100 bog bodies have been discovered in Ireland - most are Medieval or more recent burials - it is unusual for two potentially significant prehistoric remains to turn up in quick succession.
SHALLOW GRAVE HOLDS SECRETS OF ROMAN PAST IN YORKSHIRE
WORKMEN have uncovered a shallow grave that has lain undisturbed for 16 centuries beneath the soil of East Yorkshire.
A team from Yorkshire Water was starting work on a £6m sewerage scheme, laying new pipes in Brough and neighbouring Melton, when their digger uncovered the body. Work halted immediately, as members of the digging crew believed they may have found the victim of a recent crime.
But it soon became apparent that the skeleton was from a different era. The JCB bucket had caused a large dent in the skull, but otherwise the skeleton was incredibly well-preserved.
Managers called in a team of archaeologists, and the Northern Archaeological Associates quickly confirmed that the workmen had actually found a Roman settlement dating back to 400 AD.
The area has long been known to be rich with archaeological finds. The latest find is already being hailed as a breakthrough by historians.
Yorkshire Water project manager Steve Pace said: "It has been very exciting to see what is uncovered each day. It's quite something to stand on an original site and actually see where our Roman ancestors lived and worked."
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said: "It was so well preserved a lot of people thought it may have been a recent murder or something like that. We were astonished to find out the truth.
"As a matter of course we have archaeologists monitoring our work, and when the discovery was made we were determined to ensure that the work did not result in the loss of any potential finds in the area."
The finds include a large corn kiln along with oyster shells, a popular dish at the time. And the remains of walls, roads and ditches indicate the site was a significant dwelling, possibly a military base or a civilian settlement connected with the larger Roman fort at nearby Brough.
Coins and red Roman tiles helped archaeologists to date the site, and they found a possible link to the Sixth Legion. Peter Cardwell, a partner at NAA, said: "Once the tell-tale signs of red Roman tiles began to appear, Yorkshire Water stopped work so that we could fully excavate the site and catalogue its contents. It's a very interesting site, helping us to understand the extent of Roman activity in the area."
The archaeological dig has now been completed and Yorkshire Water has resumed work. The skeleton has been taken away for tests. Late last year, one of the most important archeological discoveries of the past 100 years was unearthed in an East Yorkshire field by three men with metal detectors.
The discovery of the internationally important Iron Age cache of weapons has been described as a "once in a century" find and "like finding a Picasso in your loft". It has yielded five intricate swords, scabbards and spearheads, providing one of the best ever insights into the lives of the tribal people of east Yorkshire, the Parisi.
27 May 2003
BIG GUNS OUT TO SAVE ROMAN VILLA
By Harriet Rowland
THE FINAL drive to save the threatened Brading Roman Villa began in earnest last week with a reception at Osborne House.
The Durbar Room gathering was to persuade invited guests to donate £1,000 each to become patrons of the villa.
Brading Roman Villa will receive £2.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new covering building but only if trustees can raise £625,000 themselves.
If the money cannot be raised by the autumn, the villa's fine mosaics may have to be re-buried to preserve them for posterity.
Guests at the reception included Island MP Andrew Turner, Lord Lieutenant Christopher Bland, IW Council chairman Cllr Heather Humby and former High Sheriff Judi Griffin, as well as Friends of the Villa, academics and specialists in Roman history.
The evening included a presentation on plans for the new villa building by architect Mike Rainey.
Former Lord Lieutenant Lord Mottistone greeted guests as they arrived and was among a number of speakers who made a strong case for the preservation of the villa.
Patrick Crosby from Guildford, an expert on Roman history who has amassed a priceless library of more than 1,000 books, manuscripts and inscriptions, was there to pledge to pass on his library to the villa, making it one of the leading centres for Roman studies.
He said: "It will be a fitting home for my collection."
Also at the party was Rebecca Redfern, 23, who has lived close to the villa all her life.
It inspired her to take up archaeology and she is currently completing a PhD in ancient history and archaeology.
She has done much of her research on remains found at Brading.
"It would be an international loss to Roman archaeology if it was to be covered up again, as it is such an important site," Rebecca said.
A royal seal of approval was put on the villa when the Earl of Wessex included it on his Island itinerary on Thursday last week.
Another fund-raising event was the Brading Roman Villa Open Day at Medina Theatre on Sunday.
A large audience heard speakers, including TV's Time Team archaeologist Phil Harding.
Former and current county archaeologists David Tomalin and Ruth Waller were on hand to give their perspectives on Roman Wight and Brading Roman Villa, along with mosaic specialist Steve Cosh and maritime archaeologist Gary Momber.
Villa trustee and archaeologist Rosamond, Viscountess Hanworth, who has been researching a possible Christian connection with the villa's inhabitants, also spoke.
Trustees chairman David Guy said: "I was very encouraged by the support Islanders showed for the new building at all the events.
"The trustees are now more confident that we will have a new building to be proud of but the fight is not over yet."
• Donations can be made to the Oglander Roman Trust at Brading Roman Villa, Moreton Old Road, Brading PO36 OEN.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS DIG UP MEDIEVAL BOOZER IN LICHFIELD
By Richard Moss
Archaeologists working on a site in the historic town of Lichfield in Staffordshire have discovered unique evidence that a thirteenth century pub may have once quenched the thirst of pilgrims visiting Lichfield Cathedral.
The team, from Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit, made the discovery whilst working on a site situated near the medieval boundary of the town.
Chief among the finds was a large public toilet, complete with medieval faeces, revealing traces of the last pub lunches served in the ancient tavern. Elsewhere a vast range of rough-hewn jugs were discovered that are typical of the ware found in the inns and alehouses of Medieval England.
"There was an unusually large amount of low grade pottery," explained site director Kirsty Nichol, "but the first thing that led me to this interpretation is the sheer size of the toilet. You just don't get domestic toilets that size from this period - other than on castle sites, and this isn't a castle."
Analysis of the thirteenth century faeces from the communal convenience, or garderobe to give it its medieval monicker, lead to some interesting finds about the varied diet of the inn's patrons.
"What we've found covers everything from cultivated crops, to berries taken from the hedgerows," said Kirsty. "We've even got evidence of figs, which at the time was an incredibly high status food. They would have been imported from the Mediterranean and would have only been affordable to the wealthy."
"We also found the remains of a bread oven, again this wouldn't have been uncommon in a manorial or castle site, but taken with the other evidence such as the lack of high class table wear, I think it points to the presence of an inn."
Kirsty believes the site could have been a thriving stopping off point - servicing the requirements of a wide variety of pilgrims as they arrived in Lichfield to pay homage to the tomb of St Chad in the local Cathedral, as well as other travellers, traders and locals.
"Medieval Inns weren't pubs as we know them today, it would have been somewhere pilgrims would have lodged, taken a room and had some food and ale."
The archaeology unit also came across a trench, which they believe to be evidence for the presence of the oft debated but never discovered Lichfield Ditch that once surrounded the medieval town.
"This whole idea of a pub is still just one interpretation," added Kirsty, "but with the discovery of the ditch, which dates to the same period, the building is sited on the town boundary, so I think having an Inn on this site is quite logical."
The findings were revealed this week after a dig commissioned by Walton Homes between December 2000 and January 2001 on the site of Charter House, in Sandford Street.
Having now called last orders on their research, the Field Archaeology Team have left us for the time being at least, with the rather pleasing and potent image of fourteenth century pilgrims thirstily quaffing ale in one of our most famous medieval towns.
EXPERTS FIND MIDDLE AGE BOOZER
May 28 2003
Lichfield's largest-ever archaeological dig uncovered one of the city's oldest pubs. The Birmingham Post's Neil Connor pulls up a barstool and examines the drinkers that time forgot...
Every community needs a pub to hold it together, acting as a focal-point for local residents to talk about the day’s events.
Whether it’s the Rovers Return in Weatherfield, or The Queen Vic in Albert Square, a neighbourhood seems almost dysfunctional if it does not have a building where human interaction can take place.
Even in medieval times, one of the country’s most beautiful and religious cities needed an ale-house.
And archeologists have returned to one of Lichfield’s inns almost 800 years after last orders were called on pilgrims, travellers, traders and residents who drank there.
Kirsty Nichol, site director with Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit, led the excavation on Sandford Street.
She said: “The Lichfield excavation was certainly one of the most interesting I have ever worked on.
“To find what may have been an inn is really special. All sorts of people would have gone there including pilgrims visiting the tomb of St Chad at Lichfield Cathedral.
“Travellers would have also visited the inn, which was situated in the ideal place on the edge of the city’s perimeter.”
The archaeology unit also came across a trench, a find which has finally solved the riddle of whether Lichfield was surrounded by a ditch.
Ms Nichol said: “There had been a long debate as to whether a boundary ditch surrounded the city of Lichfield in the Medieval period, but before our dig no one had conclusive proof that it did.
“We found the ditch in Sandford Street as we had hoped and therefore have discovered a very significant piece of the whole puzzle in relation to understanding the history of the city.”
Even the diet of people who relaxed in the inn has been uncovered by the archeologists, who discovered a garderobe, which is now called a public convenience, together with medieval faeces.
“We could find out what people were eating from the medieval period which was a real variety of food,” said Ms Nichol.
“Some of the food was picked from hedgerows, such as berries, and some of it was imported from the Mediterranean, such as figs.”
The toilet was large enough to cater for more than a single domestic dwelling and this, combined with the discovery of a large bread oven, indicates that an inn was likely to have been part of the Sandford Community.”
Kirsty and her team also discovered a large oven, many jugs and fine Cistercian Ware pottery, included a near complete 15th Century Cistercian Ware cup, indicating that the area was both prosperous and residential.
The dig also uncovered evidence of tanning pits, where skin was treated to make leather items, such as shoes.
The excavation was commissioned by Walton Homes between December 2000 and January 2001 on the site of Charter House, Sandford Street, the recently-opened new offices of Walton Homes.
The findings from the excavation have only come to light now, after a report was finished by the archeology unit.
Sales manager for Walton Homes John Heald said: “For us it is interesting to note that Sandford in the medieval period was a residential area with some commercial activity. This mirrors what we have created today.”
SECRET ITALIAN GARDEN UNCOVERED
A secret garden which lay untouched for nearly 70 years is opening to visitors once again.
The Italian garden, which is now part of the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans near Cardiff, remained out of sight after falling into disuse in the 1930s.
But when the area came up for sale, staff at the museum decided to buy it and restore it to its former glory.
The garden was designed by Kew-trained gardener Hugh Pettigrew in 1902 for the Earl and Countess of Plymouth, who owned the estate.
Mr Pettigrew's family grew up there, and his son Andrew and his future wife Margery conducted some of their courtship in the grounds.
Mrs Pettigrew, 90, came to see the garden's re-opening on Thursday 68 years after she had last set foot there.
Margery Pettigrew last saw the garden in 1935
Her father was the estate auditor for the Plymouth family, and she grew up in the village of St Fagans.
"The last time I was here really was about 1935," she said.
She regretted that her late husband Andrew could not be present to see the gardens renewed and said it was "like a dream coming back".
"We met in our prams," she told BBC News Online. "We knew each other from infancy."
The pair and their siblings played together as children, but as they grew older their relationship became more serious.
"Then in 1940, he popped the question in the rose garden. He pulled me onto his lap and asked me, and I said yes."
Gerallt Nash, the museum's curator of historical buildings, explained the Plymouth family had not included the garden in the original donation of the estate to the museum after WWII.
"Some years ago, it was offered for sale and we bought it because it was one little piece of land in the midst of the estate which didn't belong to us.
"When we came in here, it was totally derelict. The walls had collapsed or were collapsing. We had to rebuild and restore 95% of it."
"There was the restoration of the terraces, the paths, the enamelling room, and then the gardening side was the responsibility of the gardening team."
The work only took three months and was completed last year, but the museum has waited until now to open the doors to allow the garden time to bed in.
Senior garden conservator Juliet Hodgkiss said the garden used orange trees and agapanthus to give it an Mediterranean feel.
Other plants had been included to try to recreate the original feeling of the garden.
She explained: "One of the older estate workers remembered a lot of the flowers being blue, so we've planted a lot of them, but also added white and yellow to brighten it up."
The estate children used to swim in the pool
The Plymouths decided on an Italian theme for the garden to reflect the Countess' upbringing in Italy.
It became a favourite spot for the Countess and her mother, Lady Paget.
However, the existence of the Italian garden was kept quiet from the beginning, and a Country Life feature on the estate early in the 20th century made no mention of it.
The garden is bordered by the old enamelling room, which was used by Lady Paget - who had a reputation for eccentricity - to enamel giant candelabras.
The building now serves as an interpretation centre for the garden.
The garden officially opens to the public on Saturday.
EYE-ING UP NEW MUSEUM FUTURE
ONE of Sheffield's most popular museums can look forward to the future - you can tell by the eyes!
Kelham Island Museum's access officer Natalie Murray proudly displays the glass eye of a city worker as one of many exhibits at the newly-revamped attraction.
It reopens this weekend after spending £500,000 on exhibitions to keep Sheffield's steel past beating loudly in the heart of the city.
Industry giants like Barnes Wallis' 10-ton bomb and the River Don Engine are still big attractions but Natalie has dug out smaller objects and human stories behind Sheffield's history.
That's how she found an eye that once belonged to Thomas Bradshaw, who owned his own grinding wheel and worked in the city in the early 1900s.
Other attractions include a 1930s stainless steel table knife used as a razor by prisoners in Africa.
The £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund has paid for new lighting, shop and activities for children.
Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust's executive director John Hamshere said: "Visitors will notice a difference the moment they walk through the door.
"The 10-ton Grand Slam Bomb, the biggest conventional armament ever made, now stands out dramatically in the bright entrance – it was too big to move!"
Kelham Island opens on Sunday from 11am to 4.45pm, and Monday to Thursday from 10am to 4pm.
29 May 2003