Orkney discovery may be the first farm in Britain
Wooden structures unearthed on an archaeological dig in Orkney could be the oldest farm settlements in Britain.
The find, off the main road from Kirkwall to Stromness, may also shed light on one of the most disputed subjects in archaeology.
For decades, archaeologists have argued about the exact timescale and nature of the so-called farming revolution - when early societies made the transition from hunting and gathering to farming - thousands of years ago.
The discovery of the Orkney structures could greatly contribute to knowledge of the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, period, adding to the evidence for a settled lifestyle in villages and farmsteads on the island dating back at least 6000 years.
Dr Colin Richards, of Manchester University, led the excavation which shatters previous thinking about society during the New Stone Age, and could produce some of the earliest dates for settlement on the islands.
He said: "The houses in Orkney are all made of stone and we just never expected that we would find wooden buildings.
"It was amazing, especially when you consider that there wasn't much in the way of wood at that time on Orkney as it was treeless.
"They must have used drift wood from the shore. The evidence shows that the people of the time were herding animals, and we have lots of barley which was probably grown around the houses in small garden patches.
"Most of the farms would have had sheep and cattle and there were red deer knocking around. Interestingly, these red deer would have to be brought over from the mainland.
"It shows the continued importance of the sea, fishing and maritime culture in these areas, which continues to this day."
A number of large post-holes at the site, at the foot of Wideford Hill, show the position of a number of circular structures, each with a central hearth dating back to about 3900 BC.
The houses were previously thought to have originated from the earlier Mesolithic period but they were dated to the Neolithic, after pottery of the period was discovered at the foot of one of the post-holes.
Dr Richards said that the finds further illuminated the picture of daily life in ancient society.
He said: "It would have been a bit warmer and a bit wetter during this period on Orkney but it would have looked pretty similar to the way it does now. It appears that life would have revolved around transport by sea."
- June 20th
ARCHAEOLOGICAL HERITAGE AT RISK
09:30 - 21 June 2003
The rich abundance of Bronze Age archaeology near one of the city's poorest housing estates is at risk from controversial plans to build 105 homes. Concern has been raised that developer Persimmon Homes has permission to build the houses on its Castle Grange site, off Noddle Hill Way, without having to carry out a full archaeological survey.
Neighbouring residents, city archaeologists and councillors have reacted with concern at a planning loophole, which could mean Bronze Age relics - including a suspected 4,000-year-old farmstead - being lost forever.
Persimmon Homes, based in Beverley, acquired the Castle Grange site in 1989 when planning conditions did not require an archaeological survey.
These days, builders are legally bound to undertake archaeological surveys before any foundations are dug.
Doreen Cox, 68, of Drummond Court, Bransholme, said any Bronze Age material should be excavated and recorded as part of the city's cultural heritage.
Mrs Cox said: "It's a shame the archaeology of this site is likely to be lost.
"At the end of the day it seems that money speaks and is more important than protecting historical artefacts."
Dave Evans, archaeology manager at Hull-based Humber Archaeology, said the Castle Grange area was "potentially rich" in Bronze Age matter.
But he said his organisation had little power to demand a survey was carried out.
Mr Evans said: "Throughout the planning application we tried to get a condition applied, which would in normal circumstances allow for an archaeological survey to be carried out.
"But there's nothing we can do as Persimmon acquired the site for building when such conditions did not exist.
"We have had a number of calls from concerned residents about this matter since approval was given for the housing plans.
"There is evidence of Bronze Age living in the area as it stretches out towards the fens as well as what may be an Iron Age farmstead.
"Although nothing can be done, we are pleased residents in the area are aware of archaeology in their area and are concerned for it."
Bransholme North councillor Anita Harrison said: "Were this to be York, these plans would not have been considered without archaeological consultation.
"But sadly in Hull our imagination only seems to extend to sports stadiums and sleeping policemen."
Andrew Bowes, deputy managing director of Persimmon Homes, said: "Archaeologists working on behalf of Hull City Council have carried out an investigation at the Castle Grange development and have advised that no such work is necessary."
Now Cllr Harrison and Bransholme East councillor Nadene Burton are calling on English Heritage to see if it can investigate.
Prehistoric 'shoes' better than modern hiking boots
Prehistoric 'shoes' made out of bearskin and hay are better for mountain walks than modern hiking boots, claims an expert.
Shoe specialist Petr Hlavacek has been studying the shoes found on the feet of a prehistoric iceman whose mummified body was found in an Alpine glacier in 1991.
Mr Hlavacek, who reconstructed a pair of the shoes, said they kept the foot at an optimal temperature, allowed sweat to evaporate and dried quickly if they got wet.
The footwear engineer's version went on display this week at the Leather Museum in Offenbach.
Christian Rathke, the museum chief, said the shoe was the "most interesting and best tested" reconstruction yet.
The discovery of the iceman, a Copper Age hunter who was killed on a mountain trek, has triggered a wave of new science, with studies of both his physical health and all the equipment he wore and carried.
Rathke said the shoes were far from waterproof, but if the iceman stepped in a puddle he would only be cold for a few seconds and the shoes would dry quickly as he walked.
"This shoe is optimal for places where it's damp and cold," he said. "It would not be suitable for the savannah or desert."
The sole was of thin bearskin, padded on the inside with hay as protection against the cold. Hlavacek's reconstruction is like a slipper, with no leather upper behind the heel, just a net.
Story filed: 10:30 Friday 20th June 2003
Chariots highlight of Roman extravaganza
Jun 25 2003
By Jonathan Caswell Daily Post Staff
CHARIOT racing is to return to Chester for the first time in 2,000 years.
The city is going back to its ancient roots when it plays host to the thrilling spectacle during its Roman Festival.
Chariot racing is the main attraction at The Roodee's twoday event this weekend which celebrates the city's origins as the fortress town of Deva.
In recent years, Chester's reputation for horse racing has grown and during the festival there will be a racecard on Saturday.
But 2,000 years ago chariot racing was the sport of choice and the racegoing public will be able to see just why on both days.
The charioteers and horses are trained to standards considered as high as those held in the days of the Roman Empire.
The race co-ordinator is Frenchman Gerard Naprous (below) who has developed a global reputation for his stunt work with horses.
He and his team, including his son Daniel, are known as the Devil's Horsemen and have appeared in countless films, videos and commercials.
Their outstanding displays of horsemanship have featured in many box office and television hits, such as Merlin, Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, Rob Roy, Black Beauty, Braveheart, Highlander, Willow, First Knight and the World is Not Enough.
They have also featured in television series such as Alan Bleasdale's G.B.H, Sharpe, Last of The Summer Wine, Red Dwarf and London's Burning.
But during gaps in his busy filming schedule the team performs shows all over Europe, including wild westerns, medieval jousting and Cossack trick riding.
He told the Daily Post: "We've had a very exciting year filming the Life of Lord Byron for the BBC and Nicolas Nickleby and the Life of Cole Porter, all major productions, but coming to Chester is something special.
"It is a beautiful location and the atmosphere tingles. The authenticity of everything is second to none, you could close your eyes and feel as though it was ancient Rome.
"The horse teams will take a lot of controlling as they achieve speeds in excess of 30mph, but the races are fully choreographed, using two and four horse teams, and only our best horsemen take part."
As well as the 10 charioteers on show, the display will also feature gladiators and slaves, with full commentary and background music.
The spectacle will have special "disintegrating" chariots, period costumes, harness and weaponry.
In addition to the incredible Roman horsepower displays there will be a reconstruction of a fort and ampitheatre in the centre of the racecourse.
There will also be Roman cavalry combat displays, Roman cookery shows and a Roman market featuring armourers and potters.
Ellie Wheeler, Chester Race-course's marketing executive, said: "The first two Roman days were big successes and proved hugely popular. That's why this year we are extending it to the entire weekend.
"The chariot racing will be a big draw, as well as the gladiator fights, but we also have gentler activities like Roman cooking, Roman crafts and this year the public will also have the chance to work with Chester City archaeologists."
* GATES open at 11am on both days with racing starting on Saturday at 2pm, tickets £5 - £20. On the Sunday tickets are £4 for adults and £2 for children.
TESTS PLACE VILLA UNDER A BEET FIELD
12:00 - 21 June 2003
The remains of a fourth-century Roman villa have been found on a Bingham farmer's land.
Tests were carried out on land at Newton House Farm earlier this year by the Highways Agency, to test if work on the A46 would affect any historical site. The surrounding area already has links with the Romans - as previous excavations have revealed.
The land, near the former RAF station on the A46, belongs to James Fisher, who currently farms sugar beet there.
Trent and Peak Archaeological Society, based at the University of Nottingham, carried out the tests for the Highways Agency.
Experts used special magnetic machines to detect whether there were any sort of historical artefact or sites under the farmland.
All soil types react to magnetic forces, so other objects or textures in the soil can be detected.
Using this method, archaeologists found there was a villa, typical of fourth-century Roman times, under the ground.
During the whole process the land did not have to be dug up.
Mr Fisher said: "They were wanting to build new carriageway along the A46, and because of the history of this area, and the fact that a Roman road used to run through it, they had to check for other sites.
"I wasn't shocked about the finding because there have been other excavations around here in the past. We knew there would be Roman remains around here somewhere.
"We have found what appear to have been floor tiles and roof slates in the ground, and these are apparently from the Roman period."
Most of the findings have so far been pottery and slate.
But the site will not be excavated and the farm will be able to continue its business.
Mr Fisher added: "The Roman villa doesn't make any difference to the farm whatsoever.
"We have been farming on here for a number of years and it has not caused any problems."
It is believed the building would have been considered as a "high status" development.
Tests showed the building did not stand alone as it also had a courtyard.
When originally constructing the A46, archaeologists found the original Fosse Way road, built in Roman times.
Another Roman building known as the Margidunum - Castle Hill - is situated nearby on the traffic island at the junction of the A46 with the A6097, and archaeologists believe the two could be linked.
This site was excavated in 1920 - and a number of artefacts have been found in the area.
The discovery of the site will not affect the building of an extra lane on the A46, as it is not close enough to the road to be affected. A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "As part of its commitment to the environment, the Highways Agency commissions a team of archaeologists whenever road improvements are being made.
"We have a duty to investigate sites and to record and preserve the archaeological heritage discovered.
"In many cases if it wasn't for this commitment, a lot of historical finds would never come to light.
"We are preserving our past and creating a valuable archive for scholars of the future."
Members of the archaeological society were unavailable for comment.
Their findings are yet to be put to the national society and exact discoveries cannot be disclosed until that time.
Inca may have used knot computer code to bind empire
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
23 June 2003
They ran the biggest empire of their age, with a vast network of roads, granaries, warehouses and a complex system of government. Yet the Inca, founded in about AD1200 by Manco Capac, were unique for such a significant civilisation: they had no written language. This has been the conventional view of the Inca, whose dominions at their height covered almost all of the Andean region, from Colombia to Chile, until they were defeated in the Spanish conquest of 1532.
But a leading scholar of South American antiquity believes the Inca did have a form of non-verbal communication written in an encoded language similar to the binary code of today's computers. Gary Urton, professor of anthropology at Harvard University, has re-analysed the complicated knotted strings of the Inca - decorative objects called khipu - and found they contain a seven-bit binary code capable of conveying more than 1,500 separate units of information.
In the search for definitive proof of his discovery, which will be detailed in a book, Professor Urton believes he is close to finding the "Rosetta stone" of South America, a khipu story that was translated into Spanish more than 400 years ago.
"We need something like a Rosetta khipu and I'm optimistic that we will find one," said Professor Urton, referring to the basalt slab found at Rosetta, near Alexandria in Egypt, which allowed scholars to decipher a text written in Egyptian hieroglyphics from its demotic and Greek translations.
It has long been acknowledged that the khipu of the Inca were more than just decorative. In the 1920s, historians demonstrated that the knots on the strings of some khipu were arranged in such a way that they were a store of calculations, a textile version of an abacus.
Khipu can be immensely elaborate, composed of a main or primary cord to which are attached several pendant strings. Each pendant can have secondary or subsidiary strings which may in turn carry further subsidiary or tertiary strings, arranged like the branches of a tree. Khipu can be made of cotton or wool, cross-weaved or spun into strings. Different knots tied at various points along the strings give the khipu their distinctive appearance.
Professor Urton's study found there are, theoretically, seven points in the making of a khipu where the maker could make a simple choice between two possibilities, a seven-bit binary code. For instance, he or she could choose between weaving a string made of cotton or of wool, or they could weave in a "spin" or "ply" direction, or hang the pendant from the front of the primary string or from the back. In a strict seven-bit code this would give 128 permutations (two to the power of seven) but Professor Urton said because there were 24 possible colours that could be used in khipu construction, the actual permutations are 1,536 (or two to the power of six, multiplied by 24).
This could mean the code used by the makers allowed them to convey some 1,536 separate units of information, comparable to the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Sumerian cuneiform signs, and double the number of signs in the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians and the Maya of Central America.
If Professor Urton is right, it means the Inca not only invented a form of binary code more than 500 years before the invention of the computer, but they used it as part of the only three-dimensional written language. "They could have used it to represent a lot of information," he says. "Each element could have been a name, an identity or an activity as part of telling a story or a myth. It had considerable flexibility. I think a skilled khipu-keeper would have recognised the language. They would have looked and felt and used their store of knowledge in much the way we do when reading words."
There is also some anecdotal evidence that khipu were more than mere knots on a string used for storing calculations. The Spanish recorded capturing one Inca native trying to conceal a khipu which, he said, recorded everything done in his homeland "both the good and the evil". Unfortunately, in this as in many other encounters, the Spanish burnt the khipu and punished the native for having it, a typical response that did not engender an understanding of how the Inca used their khipu.
But Professor Urton said he had discovered a collection of 32 khipu in a burial site in northern Peru with Incan mummies dating from the time of the Spanish conquest. He hopes to find a khipu that can be matched in some way with a document written in Spanish, a khipu translation. He is working with documents from the same period, indicating that the Spanish worked closely with at least one khipu-keeper. "We have for the first time a set of khipu from a well-preserved and dated archaeological site, and documents that were being drawn up at the same time."
Without a "khipu Rosetta" it will be hard to convince the sceptics who insist that, at most, the knotted strings may be complicated mnemonic devices to help oral storytellers to remember their lines. If they are simple memory machines, khipu would not constitute a form of written language because they would have been understood only by their makers, or someone trained to recall the same story.
Professor Urton has little sympathy with this idea. "It is just not logical that they were making them for memory purposes," he said. "Tying a knot is simply a cue; it should have no information content in itself other than being a reminder." Khipu had layers of complexity that would be unnecessary if they were straightforward mnemonic devices, he said.
Translating the secrets of the ages
The world's first written language was created more than 5,000 years ago, based on pictograms, or simplified drawings representing actual objects or activities. The earliest cuneiform pictograms were etched into wet clay in vertical columns and, later, more symbolic signs were arranged in horizontal lines, much like modern writing. Cuneiform was adapted by several civilisations, such as the Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians, to write their own languages, and used for 3,000 years. Many of the clay tablets, and the occasional reed stylus used to etch cuneiform on them, have survived. Knowledge of cuneiform was lost until 1835 when a British Army officer, Henry Rawlinson, found inscriptions on a cliff at Behistun in Persia. They were identical texts written in three languages - Old Persian, Babylonian and Elamite - which allowed Rawlinson to make the first translation for many hundreds of years.
The original hieroglyphs, dating from about 5,000 years ago, were etched on stone and were elaborate and time-consuming to make, which meant they were reserved for buildings and royal tombs. A simplified version, called hieratic, was eventually developed for everyday bureaucracy, written on papyrus paper.
Later still, hieratic was replaced by demotic writing, the everyday language of Egypt, which appeared on the Rosetta stone with Greek and hieroglyphic script, allowing scholars to translate the original Egyptian writing.
The Maya used about 800 individual signs or glyphs, paired in columns that read from left to right and top to bottom. The glyphs could be combined to form any word or concept in the Mayan language and inscriptions were carved in stone and wood on monuments or painted on paper, walls or pottery. Some glyphs were also painted as codices made of deer hide or bleached fig-tree paper covered by a thin layer of plaster and folded like an accordion. The complete deciphering of the Mayan writing is only 85 per cent complete, although it has been made easier with the help of computers.
Only highly trained Mayan scribes used and understood the glyphs, and they jealously guarded their knowledge in the belief that only they should act as intermediates between the gods and the common people.
Maya mystery solution may be warning
By MIKE TONER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
WASHINGTON -- Images from space are providing scientists with new clues about the mysterious collapse of the Mayan civilization of Central America and some hints about the fates of other ancient civilizations that tried, and failed, to manipulate their environments with massive public works projects.
Analyses of satellite images by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and others suggest that, at least in the Petén region of northern Guatemala, the Maya made major ecological mistakes. Those, in turn, led to the collapse of what, around 800 A.D., was one of the most densely populated regions of the New World.
"By about 900 A.D., these people had all but disappeared, and we think we're beginning to understand why," NASA archaeologist Tom Sever told the World Archaeological Congress in Washington.
Aerial surveys of the region were performed by Charles Lindbergh more than 70 years ago, but new space-based sensors are enabling scientists to see through the dense jungle growth. "We have been able to see things that have never been mapped before," Sever said. "Some of these features are so subtle that even if you chopped away all the vegetation, you couldn't see them."
A mirror of modern worries
From hundreds of newly discovered cities and towns, fields, roadways, canals and man-made reservoirs, researchers are beginning to see the rise and fall of Maya civilization in a new light -- one that strikes a familiar chord in a modern world that worries about water wars, drought and overpopulation.
The Maya civilization originated in the Yucatan and eventually occupied much of what today is southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador and northern Belize.
The Maya initially prospered because the region was dotted with small lakes and ponds. As the population grew, however, the Maya rapidly deforested steep slopes to make way for crops. The resulting erosion clogged streams and rivers with silt and turned the lakes into seasonal swamps.
To supply the water that once had been stored naturally, the Maya built hundreds of man-made reservoirs. For a while, engineering seemed to be the answer. But with a population density equivalent to that of China and every arable acre under cultivation, there was no cushion for bad years.
Sometime between 800 and 900, a series of severe droughts devastated the region. The reservoirs dried up and the crops failed. "Within 100 years, 95 percent of the population was gone," Sever said.
The analysis isn't as advanced, but researchers say space-based and aerial images are beginning to suggest that a similar fate may have befallen the Khmer empire, which ruled much of Cambodia between the ninth and 15th centuries.
Similar hints in Cambodia
Rediscovered by French missionaries in the mid-1800s, the Angkor region's archaeological sites have been celebrated primarily for their lavishly decorated temples and stone sculptures.
In recent years, however, archaeologists have mapped an extensive network of roads, canals and reservoirs. The latest radar images by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory show networks of canals and square-cornered reservoirs -- many too faint to be seen from the ground -- that cover more than 300 square miles.
Archaeologists now estimate that the population of Angkor may have reached 1 million at its peak. They don't yet know why it collapsed, but an eco-disaster like that which befell the Maya is one of the leading possibilities.
COULD MASSIVE DREDGING PLAN THREATEN HISTORIC PORTSMOUTH?
By David Prudames
A massive development scheme at Portsmouth Naval Base, involving dredging and the possible creation of a new deep water channel could impinge upon the historic harbour's accumulated layers of maritime history.
Portsmouth has long been one of the UK's most important harbour sites with a recorded history going back to the Romans and taking in the likes of the Mary Rose. With such a wealth of history in the area, local archaeology groups and experts may well be concerned about the impact of the scheme on the historic environment.
The £150-200 million plan will make the Portsmouth Naval Base capable of accommodating what will be the Royal Navy's largest ever vessels, two new aircraft carriers weighing between 60 and 70,000 tonnes each.
As well as refurbishing the base's jetties, the plan would involve the dredging of the main channel inside the harbour by another two metres. There are also plans to create a new approach channel 200 metres wide, which could be dredged as deep as 14.5 metres.
But experts insist that with the help of a long consultation period and significant surveying, Portsmouth's historic waters and archaeological environment will be protected.
A statement issued by the Royal Navy today has announced that a lengthy consultation and environmental assessment will be carried out.
“Portsmouth is recognised by the Ministry of Defence as being of environmental importance for many reasons, including nature conservation, fisheries and archaeological sites.”
“Therefore the Warship Support Agency (WSA) has commissioned a firm of specialist consultants to undertake an environmental study in preparation for a more detailed environmental impact assessment later this year.”
It is, however, the new approach channel, with its proposed route through the Mary Rose historic wreck site that would have the greatest impact upon archaeological material.
As reported by the 24 Hour Museum yesterday, the Mary Rose Trust, in part prompted by the project, is planning a series of dives to clear the site of debris and salvage any historic material that might still be there.
Mike Power, Project Leader at the Warship Support Agency told the 24 Hour Museum how a geophysical survey will be undertaken later this year, while Wessex Archaeology has been commissioned to carry out a study of the area.
“We need to protect the resource,” said Mike, “and we are bound by English Heritage to protect that resource, but exactly how to do that is somewhere down stream. The whole idea is that we know what's in the way so that we can deal with it in a grown up way, rather than just start digging.”
Adding that while any site of a new approach channel would need the most archaeological attention, Mike explained that in the harbour itself there could be ancient and even palaeolithic material.
“Any digging work is a long way down the line, but there will be plenty of time to sort out these issues, but the sooner we do the better so that we know what the constraints are.”
Of the Mary Rose wreck site Mike added, “one of the proposed routes clips the site and clearly if we were to use that site we will have to take some mitigation into account.”
Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, John Lippiett acted swiftly to put forward his organisation's position on the plan.
“We acknowledge that the Mary Rose historic wreck site could be compromised by one of the proposed routes. We also publicly recognise that the project team is acting responsibly by consulting with all key stakeholders, including ourselves and English Heritage. Since the project is at a consultative stage, it would be premature to speculate further.”
“However,” he added, “the public and the archaeological community should be reassured that detailed and consultative discussions are taking place.”
Remains of huge ancient building discovered
June 25 2003
Egyptian and German experts have found the remains of a huge building in the southern district of Minya dating back to the Ptolemic era around 300BC, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has announced.
The SCA said in a statement that the building was used by priests and their families.
The priests were responsible for performing various religious rites inside and outside the Tuna al-Gabal cemetery for sacred animals and birds, which represented the god Gohty.
The building contained up to 50 rooms, including rooms set aside for religious rituals, meetings and leisure.
Experts also found stone pieces they believe were used in a chess-like game.
Other items found included pottery and remains of human hair.
The Tuna al-Gabal cemetery contains thousands of mummified sacred birds and animals, with the oldest ones dating back to the 19th dynasty, according to the SCA.
Was 0 a good year?
June 21 2003 at 09:45AM
Archaeologists in western China discovered five earthenware jars of 2 000-year-old rice wine in an ancient tomb and its bouquet was still strong enough to perk up the nose, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.
Xinhua said five litres of the almost clear blue-tinged liquor was found, enough to allow researchers their best opportunity yet to study ancient distilling techniques.
Archaeologist Sun Fuzhi was quoted saying the tomb dated from the early Western Han dynasty, which held sway over much of mainland China between 206BC and 25AD. Liquor from the period has been found in other tombs but never as well preserved, he said.
Liquor made from rice or sorghum grains were a major part of ceremonies and ritual sacrifices in ancient China, with elaborate bronze cups and decanters cast specifically for their use.
Several drinking vessels, along with bronze bells, more than 100 jade pieces and part of a human skull were found in the tomb, which Sun said probably belonged to a member of the Han nobility. - Sapa-AP
Experts to repair 'faeces fossil'
Archaeologists are carrying out one of their most delicate projects to date - the careful restoration of 1200-year-old human faeces.
Measuring 20cm by 5cm, the exhibit is thought to be the largest fossilised human excrement ever found.
But despite surviving for well over 1,000 years, the Viking relic was broken into three pieces during a recent school visit to its home, the Archaeological Resource Centre (Arc) in York.
Now team member Gill Snape, a student from the University of Bradford, has the unenviable task of restoring the artefact to its former glory.
But despite admitting she has "never done anything quite like this before", the 21-year-old told BBC News Online it was not quite the revolting job people assumed.
"It's rock hard, it doesn't smell and it's certainly not squishy," said Ms Snape.
Museum chiefs are desperate to see their star exhibit glued back together because it is popular with the schoolchildren that make up a large percentage of their visitors.
"The kids loved it," Ms Snape added.
"We've even had thank you letters saying 'thank you for showing us the poo'."
After it is delicately glued back together, Ms Snape said the fossil would be mounted on perspex for visitors to "fully appreciate its glory as the centrepiece of the Arc".
And she had a message for anyone who doubted the impressive stature of the item, which was discovered in 1972 on land now occupied by Lloyds TSB Bank in York.
"It's huge - and bear in mind it's shrunk since it was deposited," she added.