Heathrow reveals historic legacy
The new Terminal 5 is due to open in 2007
An archaeological dig at the site of the new Terminal 5 building at Heathrow Airport in west London has provided a unique insight into 8,000 years of human history, excavation leaders have said.
About 80,000 objects have been unearthed at the 250-acre site, including pottery and flint.
A team of 80 archaeologists have spent more than 15 months working on the site and traced how the communities and landscape around Heathrow has changed.
The project was the largest single archaeological dig in the UK in terms of the area excavated and the numbers of archaeologists employed.
Evidence showed that the first permanent settlement was in the Bronze Age (2,400BC to 700BC).
By the Iron Age (700BC to 43AD) a small village had appeared but that settlement died out at the end of the Roman era.
Another one grew up in the 12th Century.
18,000 pieces of pottery
40,000 pieces of flint
A unique 3,000-year-old wooden bowl
Experts also found evidence that field boundaries were being created from about 2,000BC, 500 years earlier than previously thought.
Tony Trueman of Framework Archaeology, formed especially to carry out the dig, said this was highly significant.
"It shows that people were actually claiming ownership of land for the first time.
"Before this land was shared by the whole of a community, but this shows us social attitudes were changing and hierarchies were emerging much earlier than we first thought."
Objects on display
Before the first settlement, the team found pits where meat was cooked by hunter gatherers during the Middle Stone Age, when the landscape was covered by trees.
Heathrow Airport was built on the site of what had previously been a private airfield on Hounslow Heath in 1946.
The £2.5bn Terminal 5 project is likely to be operational in 2007.
Objects from the dig are already being displayed at the Museum of London and others will be exhibited at the Heathrow Visitors' Centre later this year.
Belfast Telegraph > News
Publication Date: 17 July 2003
5,000-year-old settlement found in Sligo
By Anita Guidera
THE Republic's largest Neolithic settlement dating back 5,000 years has been uncovered on a remote mountain - more than 100 years after the site was first mapped by archaeologists.
A small team, led by Dr Stefan Bergh of the Department of Archaeology of NUI Galway, working on the plateau at Mullaghfarna, 250 feet above Lough Arrow, Co Sligo, discovered artefacts which link the site to the late Stone Age, 2,500 to 3,000 years before Christ.
The existence of some of the 140 hut sites and enclosures high up on the plateau in the Brickleigh mountains, surrounded by cliffs and passage tombs has been known to archaeologists since 1911 but until now the age of the settlement has remained a mystery.
"This has remained one of the most enigmatic places in Irish pre-history.
"It has always been a main focus of research but it could not be fully interpreted because we did not have a date for it," explained Dr Bergh.
All this changed two weeks ago, when Dr Bergh and a small group of students from NUI Galway, uncovered a collection of cremated bones, teeth of animals, hazelnut shells, charcoal, small pieces of pottery and small tools, including an Antrim flint knife and some concave scrapers, as well as black flint debris on three separate trial digs on the 60,000 square metres limestone plateau.
"These finds are very significant for the time period and all date to the Neolithic period, although exact dates will not be known until the artefacts are carbon dated," Dr Bergh said.
Archaeological first for student
by Paula Tegerdine
Date Published: Tuesday 15 July 2003
ARCHAEOLOGISTS working at Britain's biggest excavation site near Wareham are celebrating a rare discovery of national importance and a first for Dorset.
A student from Bournemouth University uncovered a 20cm pot which turned out to be evidence of the first Iron Age cremation ever found in Dorset.
The pot filled with human remains was found intact at Bestwall Quarry - where archaeologist have unearthed a wealth of finds, including 30 Roman kilns.
Archaeologist Lilian Ladle said: "We've found three Roman cremations and a number of Bronze Age cremations but during the late Iron Age in Dorset bodies would be put out to rot or buried.
"This is very exciting - not only is it very rare, it has got some sort of importance possibly linking to someone who did not live in this area."
Massive amounts of broken pots have also been unearthed nearby which may indicate some sort of ritual took place.
A late Iron Age quern stone used for grinding corn was found in the same ditch and there is evidence of lots of post holes indicating a family group once settled there.
A chance to visit the Bestwall Quarry archaeology project is coming up on National Archaeology Days on July 19 and 20.
Guided tours take place at 11am, 1pm and 3pm both days and there will be a potter re-firing a Roman kiln.
Parking is available near the excavations - from East Street in Wareham follow Bestwall Road as far as it goes.
2000-YEAR-OLD MOSAIC UNEARTHED UNDER NEW MUSEUM IN LINCOLN
By David Prudames
Building work on the new £10.5 million City and County Museum site in Lincoln has revealed the biggest Roman mosaic found in the city for a century.
The mosaic was unearthed last month during excavations at what will eventually form the goods lift at the new museum site in central Lincoln.
Further work has since unearthed more of the red and white mosaic, which measures approximately four metres square. Experts now believe that it formed the corridor of a luxurious Roman Town House dating from the third or fourth century AD.
"How apt that the building of the new museum should be the means by which such an exciting piece of history is discovered," exclaimed Cllr. Bernard Theobald, Deputy Leader of Lincolnshire County Council and Cultural Services Portfolio Holder.
Following discussions with representatives of English Heritage, it has been decided that the mosaic will be removed from the site and put on display as part of the new museum's Roman display.
Numerous fragments of painted plaster have also been retrieved from the site, indicating that the walls of the corridor were brightly decorated. Such lavish decoration of walls and floors suggests that the owners were very wealthy.
"Lincoln is always likely to produce spectacular archaeological finds and considering how little of the site is being excavated this is a remarkable discovery," explained Cllr. Ric Metcalf, Leader of the City of Lincoln Council.
"I am very pleased to hear that we have been able both to reveal more of this impressive mosaic and to arrange for it to be removed from the site so that it can in due course be appreciated by visitors to the new museum."
Photo: the mosaic will be carefully lifted from its current position, cleaned and put on display when the museum opens in 2005. Image courtesy Lincolnshire County Council.
Excavation work is due for completion at the end of this month and construction work on the new museum is scheduled to begin in late August.
It is hoped that the new building will be ready to open its doors in Spring 2005 when it will replace the City and County Museum's existing premises, which opened in 1906.
Plans were unanimously supported by city and county councillors in December 2000 and since then over £10.5m of funding has been raised from private sponsors, the Heritage Lottery Fund, European Regional Development Fund and East Midlands Development Agency.
City and County Museum, Lincoln
City and County Museum, 12 Friars Lane, Lincoln, LN2 5AL, Lincolnshire
Open: The museum currently operates the Greyfriars Exhibition Centre in Lincoln, but a fantastic new £10m home for the museum is being developed and the new building is due to open in Spring 2005. For the latest information see our website www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ccm.
FOLLOWING THE FOSSE WAY
10:30 - 14 July 2003
The country's newest dual carriageway follows the same route as an historic Roman thoroughfare. The roadworks gave archaeologists a rare chance to dig deep into the history of the county. Brendan Montague follows the path they charted into the mists of time.
The newly opened stretch of A46 between Lincoln and Newark follows a route that has remained important for at least 2,000 years - the Roman Fosse Way.
And the construction allowed archaeologists to unearth prehistoric artefacts that date all the way back to the Late Neolithic age - as far as 2400 BC.
Many of the rare finds will be preserved in Lincoln's new City and County Museum.
The archaeological discoveries help map a route through history back to some of the earliest recorded settlements in Lincolnshire.
The historical trail began with the unearthing of pits and gullies containing pottery from the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, found at the Winthorpe roundabout, near Newark.
This is the spot where the present A46 is thought to diverge from the original Fosse Way, although very little of the Roman road was discovered.
The pits that were found are evidence of historic timber fences, working shelters and other structures.
Further along the road at Glebe Farm, on the route of the Brough bypass, archaeologists found more evidence of Early Bronze Age habitation.
A cremation cemetery was discovered, which included cremation burials in urns set in a circle-shaped ditched enclosure.
This was surrounded by a ditch which had been cut into the natural sands and gravel with a south-west facing entrance.
Beaker pottery found at the site dates back to 2,000BC with other burial urns also dating from 1,700BC.
Cremation burial remains were also unearthed at Langford Hall at the northern end of the Brough bypass.
These were revealed to have originated from the Middle Bronze Age, between 1,700 and 1,500BC.
And they are described by the project leader of the City of Lincoln Archaeological Unit, Russell Trimble, as "the most interesting" discovery.
"This is a very unusual find for this region," he added. "But we have got to study the pots - we have got specialists looking at them and then we will know how rare they are."
An Iron Age settlement with boundaries was also discovered at Brough, including many crop marks such as track ways, fields and roundhouses.
The name of the village derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for an old fortification - burgh - although to the Romans it was known as Crococalana.
Excavations around Glebe Farm revealed evidence of an Anglo-Saxon settlement, dating from the sixth century.
"We found about 16 small pots with fragments of pottery with human remains from the early bronze age," Mr Trimble said.
"These types of sites are rare. We know of one parallel site in the south of the country."
The excavations at Glebe Farm revealed evidence of houses, fields and enclosures from the Iron Age, dated around 100BC.
Digs carried out during the road-building project have thrown light on the complex history of occupation at Gallows Nooking Common.
The area at the top of the Trent Valley runs parallel to an ancient earthwork "band and ditch" which marks the local parish and county boundary.
Mr Trimble said: "There had only been glimpses and we have now been able to complete the picture.
"The very interesting thing about the site is the main road crosses over the area, and it seems from the work that we carried out the settlement existed for a long time.
"We want to establish why the settlement came to an end - was it something to do with the Roman road? They may have been cleared out."
Archaeologists have been able to confirm that the A46 follows the route of the original Roman Fosse Way, built midway through the first century.
At some points a limestone road surface with an underlying layer of broken Roman brick was found.
But because the ancient and modern roads follow exactly the same path most of it lies undisturbed - perhaps ready for discovery 2,000 years from now.
Fish fossils reveal Roman trade routes
Genetics shows ancient Anatolians imported Egyptian catfish.
14 July 2003
HELEN R. PILCHER
Fossilized remains of a fish supper have revealed a hitherto unknown Roman trade route. Genetic analysis shows that 1400-year-old catfish unearthed in an ancient Anatolian city probably came from Egypt1.
The fossils were found among the mountain-top ruins at Sagalassos, 110 kilometres inland from Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast. Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) are not native this region.
In AD600 Sagalassos was a hub of Greco-Roman culture, agriculture and export. "The catfish was probably a delicacy for aristocrats," says the director of the dig Marc Waelkens from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Romans may also have imported these and other exotic fish to stock their decorative pools. Waelkens and his colleagues found Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and African tilapia (Tilapia zillii) at the site too, they report in this month's Journal of Archaeological Science .
The fish add to growing evidence that Sagalassos had connections with far-flung regions of the Roman Empire - its pottery, for example, has turned up in north-east Africa.
It's interesting that trade relationships were going on this late, says Stephen Mitchell, who studies ancient history at the University of Exeter. From AD500 onwards, the city suffered earthquakes, economic recession, plague and invasion. Evidence of fish importing, he says, "implies a high level of organisation close to the city's end".
Waelkens' team found the fish remains in kitchen rubbish pits. The presence of fins, but no heads, was the first hint that they were from afar. Says fish geneticist Filip Volckaert, also from the University of Leuven: "Egyptians probably opened up the belly, took out the guts, took off the heads, treated them with salt or dried them, and then put them on a shipment." Sun drying might also have helped preserve the fishes' DNA.
The researchers analysed mitochondrial DNA from six of the pectoral fins. This genetic material changes little over time. They compared it against modern specimens from Turkey, Syria, Israel, Mali, Egypt and Senegal. The Sagalassos samples matched those from present-day catfish from the river Nile.
Since 1990, Sagalassos has become a large-scale, interdisciplinary excavation. Covering 1800 square kilometers, the area reveals a near intact city and its contents. Researchers are reconstructing the life style, economy, agricultural practices and climate changes experienced in this late Roman outpost.
1. Arndt, A. et al. Roman trade relationships at Sagalassos (Turkey) elucidated by ancient DNA of fish remains. Journal of Archaeological Science, 30, 1095 - 1105, (2003). |Article|
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003
Yangtze River dam floods 1,200 sites
The Three Gorges dam began to be filled last month. What has been saved?
By Lucian Harris
LONDON Nearly 1200 sites of historical and archaeological importance along the Yangtze River are now underwater as the first stage of China’s massively ambitious Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric project reached completion on schedule. On 1 June the waters began rising in the huge 375 miles long reservoir created by the 185 metre high and two kilometre wide dam.
Archaeological discoveries made during the salvage efforts have recently identified the area as one of the most culturally important in China, local museums have been greatly enriched, and Chinese archaeology has advanced both technically and financially. Unfortunately for the future of serious archaeological research in the region, it is all too little, too late.
In 1992, when the dam’s construction was approved by China’s National Peoples Congress, not a single archaeologist was among 412 experts consulted. After a hurriedly commissioned Unesco report a year later identified key sites and made various recommendations, Yu Weichao, then director of the Chinese History Museum and a scholar whose thumbs had been cut off during the Cultural Revolution, was appointed director of the Planning Group for Cultural Relic Protection of the Three Gorges Reservoir and Dam Construction by the Chinese government.
The initial budget allocated for the archaeological rescue mission was nearly two billion yuan ($250 million). Had this money been quickly and efficiently distributed substantial work might have been completed before the waters rose. As it was, the sum was soon reduced to 300 million yuan ($37.5 million), funds immediately sapped by further bureaucracy, misadministration and corruption.
Yu Weichao and the academic institutions involved did their best to advance work on the most important sites, their plight and findings increasingly publicised outside China by scholars such as Elizabeth Childs-Johnson. As sites were uncovered looting thrived and artefacts of dubious origin surfaced on the international market, a notable example was the rare 4-foot bronze “spirit tree” from the Han Dynasty (206BC –220AD) sold for $2.5 million at New York’s 1998 International Asian Art Fair.
By 2000, with increasing pressure from the archaeological community inside and outside China, substantial funds were finally allocated and a salvage operation was underway, with 100 teams of archaeologists from more than 20 provinces and cities, working on 120 of the most important sites. It was all far too late, and despite the introduction of high-tech equipment, in archaeological terms there has hardly been time to scratch the surface. Over 6,000 significant artefacts unearthed represent only a tantalizing hint of the rich potential of the region. Indeed so little time was left when the money arrived that many of the museums, institutes and university departments involved, whilst frustrated, have found themselves richer than ever before.
The archaeological findings have established that the Three Gorges region was one of the main meeting places between East and West in ancient China. Excavations have unearthed material contributing to a revised picture of the earliest human cultures in the region. Extensive late-Neolithic remains in the principal Three Gorges region are from the Daxi culture (ca. 5000-3200BC) and the Chujialing culture (3200-2300BC), but it is the Ba culture sites that have most excited archaeologists. The Ba people can be traced from late-Neolithic origins until the Warring States period of the Eastern Zhou (481-221BC).
Important early sites, all now submerged, are at Shuangyantang on the Daning river, Lijiaba at Yunyang, and at many places within the Xiling Gorge. Later sites were discovered in the Wu Gorge and at Wushan. Finds of this period are characterised by distinctive works of art such as decorated bronze weapons, large musical instuments like drums and gongs, and boat-shaped wooded coffins, many sharing similarities to the adjacent contemporary Shu culture of western Sichuan.
“Recent archaeological work has uncovered what little we know about the elusive Ba and their relationship to Shu and Chu cultures before and after the Warring States and Han periods”, Elizabeth Childs-Johnson told The Art Newspaper. “ Fuling, the elite Ba cemetery and other sites in eastern Sichuan and western Hubei, associated with the early settlement of these peoples, although largely now lost will be fondly remembered and treasured.”
Flooded remains from later periods include the Tang Dynasty (618-907) ruins at Mingyueba covering an area of 150,000 square metres on the southern bank of the Xiaojiang River which runs into the Yangtze. Historical records suggest that this was an important salt distribution centre. Excavations begun in 2000 unearthed at least 20 stone buildings, 20 tombs, and Buddhist sculptures, making this the largest and best preserved Tang Dynasty site in the region.
Also permanently submerged are many of the area’s distinctive “low-water calligraphies” (kushuitike), engraved into the limestone walls of the gorges to record safe water levels for the passage of boats, and dating from the Han and Eastern Jin period (317-420) to the Qing period (1644-1911). Most important of these is Baiheliang or White Crane Ridge, near Fuling in Sichuan province, which has unique carvings dating back to the Tang period (618-907). There have been plans to build an underwater museum to view this site, although there is much scepticism as to whether this is feasible.
The standing monuments of the area are the most visible archaeological casualties although some have been moved wholesale. Among these is the famous Zhang Fei temple complex opposite Yunyang town, built in the Northern Song period (960-1126), which is being moved 32 km away. The Qing period temple built at Zigui in Hubei province as a memorial to the southern romantic poet Qu Yuan (338-278 BC) is being moved to the new town of Maoping near the dam.
Other monuments have been protected by rampart walls. The Ming period fortified treasury of Shibaozhai at Zhongxian in Sichuan province is a wooden tower built into the cliff face by the Jiaqing emperor in 1800. Twelve storeys high, it contains Buddhist sculptures and slab stelae. A similar defense has been erected for the 7.5 metre high sculpture of Buddha at Single Pebble Village.
Ancient wine under study
A SYMPOSIUM on a type of liquor made 2,000 years ago was held last Saturday in Xian, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, when the focus was on a 26kg container of ancient liquor.
The container was found in a tomb from the West Han Dynasty (206BC-24AD) in Xian, and made a great stir in Chinese archaeological and wine-making industrial circles when it was unearthed last month.
The local government and cultural relics administration held the symposium to draw some 40 experts of archaeology and history, as well as authorities from the food testing and wine-making industries all over China to appraise the value of the liquor and how to preserve it, said Sun Fuxi, director of the Xian Archaeological Research Institute.
The Xian Municipal Cultural Relics Administration said the testing results from the China Food Ferment Industry Research Institute on the ancient liquor revealed that the unearthed treasure was a wine-based chemical composition.
After the liquor was unearthed, some experts said it was water, not liquor. But the testing results proved otherwise, Sun said.
And because there was more than 1,800mg of copper in the liquor, its colour had turned green, a definite change from its original hue, he added.
At the symposium, experts did not reach a conclusion that the liquor was made of grain or fruit, and decided further research was needed, Sun said.
They paid great attention to the liquor’s preservation, figuring it must have done some harm to the substance when it was removed from its original container.
“At present, the unearthed liquor is packed in medical glass bottles with solid seals, and kept in an icebox with a constant temperature of 4°C,” said Sun.
“These are the initial protecting measures, although how to protect it permanently needs to be thoroughly researched.”
Sun said there was yet a new problem as China had no standard to measure cultural relics in liquid form and though it was rare, there was no standard to classify it as a cultural relic.
The symposium concluded that the substance was the best protected and largest amount of ancient liquor found so far. – China Daily
Moundville building houses precious artifacts from near and far
By JOHNNY KAMPIS
The Associated Press
7/15/03 7:08 PM
The Tuscaloosa News
MOUNDVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- There are more artifacts than meet the eye at Moundville Archaeological Park.
In addition to the exhibits detailing the history of Moundville, the cultural center of the Southeast 10,000 years ago, the park contains a repository filled with historical treasures from across the United States.
Mold covers the walls of the white cinder block building. And while it doesn't look like much from the outside, the Erskine Ramsay Archaeological Repository is a top spot in the region for storage and research.
It is one of a few facilities in the Southeast that meets federal guidelines for storing precious collections, and the number of artifacts in the repository is growing thanks to government contracts to store the items.
Pottery shards, animal bones, soil samples and other specimens from states as far away as Wisconsin and New Mexico, and from organizations ranging from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fill the three-floor facility.
The repository can store up to about 19,000 cubic feet of artifacts.
The University of Alabama Office of Archaeological Services, which oversees the facility, is preparing a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to store any discoveries that the Corps uncovers during its work.
UA has worked with the Corps since the late 1970s, not long before the construction of the Tenn-Tom Waterway began.
The excavation work on that project unearthed everything from sunken steamboats to prehistoric American Indian villages, said Dottie Gibbens, archaeologist for the Corps' Mobile district.
Many smaller finds are stored at the repository, including a copper plate embossed with the symbol of an eagle. The plate, likely worn as a badge of office, was found in Lubbub Creek in Pickens County.
Eugene Futato, curator of archaeological collections at UA, showed off the piece last week.
"We try not to lose anything," he said, grinning.
The location of each artifact is stored on computer. Futato said researchers can jot down the locations of the items on paper and then find what they need.
"I tell people it's like going to the grocery store," he said. "You make your list and take your cart and go up and down the aisle."
Only qualified researchers are allowed to study the pieces in the repository. Staff members generally retrieve the artifacts and bring them to a laboratory that is part of a separate facility.
In 1980, the repository was the victim of one of the largest thefts of artifacts in Southern history. UA researchers revealed in April that 70 percent of the museum's exhibit-quality pieces, worth as much as $1 million in today's prices, were stolen.
While a similar theft would not be impossible today, "it would certainly be a lot more difficult," Futato said.
UA upgraded the facility's security in 1984 after receiving federal contracts for storage that would pay for the work. The repository has motion detectors, alarms and temperature and humidity sensors for increased safety of the artifacts.
These upgrades were installed several years before federal repository standards would require them.
The building's humidity is held stable at 55 percent, while temperatures are either 75 degrees in the back or 65 degrees in the front, where most of the paper documents are stored.
In addition to the numerous American Indian artifacts in the building, the repository stores relics like old bottles found during the construction of a federal courthouse in Florida and post-Civil War maps showing troop positions in Atlanta and Gettysburg.
Before any federal construction project begins, an archaeological survey is completed. Futato said that 90 percent of the time nothing is found, but detailed records are kept and many of those documents find their way to the repository.
Gibbens said the Corps has found a treasure trove of items during excavations. She couldn't name one favorite.
"It's hard to pick one thing," she said. "There's so much. Alabama has such a rich history."
Futato said the repository has as many as 1,000 boxes of specimens from a single Corps project.
The facility receives many government artifacts discovered in the region because there are few like it in the South. The University of Georgia is currently upgrading its facility to meet the government's tougher standards, as is the University of South Carolina.
Jonathan Leader, interim director of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, said that he is in constant contact with the Moundville office to discuss ways USC can improve its facility.
He said only one in eight repositories in the country meet federal guidelines and that Moundville is a center for observation because it has been ahead of the curve for nearly 20 years.
"They've been a terrific model in the region, perhaps in the entire United States," he said.
On the Net:
British tycoon may bid for penis museum
A mystery British tycoon is reportedly lining up a bid for a penis museum in Iceland.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum is up for sale and it's understood there's an interested British buyer.
The museum hosts a collection of penis specimens from all native Icelandic animals.
Museum director Sigurdur Hjartarson has historically received an annual grant from the City of Reykjavík to maintain the museum.
But this year, Mr Hjartarson did not receive any funding, which he said was "strange", so has put the museum up for sale on his website.
He says it will be a "shame to sell the museum abroad" and see it leave Iceland, as it's the most talked-about museum in the country and the only one of its kind in the world.
Story filed: 11:10 Thursday 17th July 2003
Erected the museum in 1997
Time Magazine describes it as a valuable teaching tool
Buyers might face some stiff competition
What do you make of this?
Penises of Every Kind Adorn Museum Walls
Wed Mar 20, 7:46 AM ET
By Jennifer Knoll
REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - From geysers to glaciers, Iceland is blessed with innumerable natural wonders.
But one Icelander has chosen to ignore his country's impressive geology and focus on the more obscure phallology, the study of the penis -- the Icelandic mammal penis in this case.
Down an alley off Reykjavik's main shopping street, travelers will find an odd example of one man's life work, the Icelandic Phallological Museum, more commonly referred to as the penis museum.
Sigurdur Hjartarson, a high school history teacher, erected the museum in 1997, after collecting dozens of penises from the various mammals of his homeland.
Hjartarson gladly bestows on visitors penile pearls of wisdom acquired during his quest to acquire a complete collection.
"I have a bone from a hamster, it's less than two millimeters," he said. "Every species has a different shape and form and that should make it interesting."
In addition to the hamster organ, the display includes penises from skunks, rams, dolphins, and horses as well as an impossible-to-miss penis from a killer whale, which in its flaccid state measures six feet (2 meters) long.
It immediately becomes clear that there is much guests can learn about the penis from Hjartarson: many have bones, some have threads running through them and others are full of oil. But the friendly Icelander says the most common question posed to him by visitors is a simple one: "Why do you do it?"
"Somebody has to and I just had the fate of having to start it," he said.
Hjartarson, however, enjoys more than the just educating people on the male anatomy.
"Some people don't know how to react to something like this. They think I am queer or pervert. I like that, not letting people know whether I am joking or a serious collector, which I certainly am."
Hjartarson says a penis cannot maintain its form without proper care.
After more than a quarter of a century of trial and error, Hjartarson has developed multiple methods for preserving his samples. Tapping on a stiff baby whale penis, Hjartarson reveals some of his techniques.
"I put some in formaldehyde. Others I have dried, emptied, with salt," he said. "I try different methods, better than if all were kept the same way."
His various methods have made for an interesting exhibit. Tanned penises dangle from rope, dried penises are hung like trophies on the wall, while pickled penises adorn shelves and fill large specially designed Lucite cases.
For visitors' viewing pleasure, many of the items are displayed under the light of ram testicle lamps created by Hjartarson.
The Phallological Museum boasts a nearly complete collection of 143 penises from 41 Icelandic mammals. But the collection is still missing two samples according to Hjartarson.
TWO SAMPLES MISSING
One is the penis of a small whale. The other is that of a man.
"I have three letters of donation" from men, Hjartarson says, pointing to a wall which contains photos and legally binding commitment letters from an Icelander, a German and a Briton. The Briton also sent a mold of his penis to be displayed until his own appendage arrives.
But because the museum's mandate is to display Icelandic mammals, only the Icelander's penis will find a place in the main exhibit.
The Icelandic donor has requested that he be preserved with "dignity."
"The donors and the doctors are in agreement, it must be taken while the body is warm. Then bleed it and pump it up. If it cools you can't do anything, so he is eager to have it taken warm and treated to be preserved with dignity," explains Hjartarson.
Each penis seems to come with a story, but like every good teacher Hjartarson is careful not to pick favorites. "You know mothers don't differentiate between their kids," he explains.
In the words of one letter writer to the Times of London: "Further comment would be superfluous". (complete tale available on request)
Reuters March? 2002
EVIDENCE OF FOSSE WAY MISSING LINK REVEALED
18:00 - 17 July 2003
Archaeologists believe they may have found evidence of the missing link in mid-Somerset's most famous Roman road. And on Sunday afternoon they will display the findings of a recent survey during a guided walk on the Mendips outside Shepton Mallet.
For years, experts have known that the Fosse Way runs through this area as it takes a very direct route between Axminster, in Devon, and Lincoln, in the east of England.
They knew it passed through the eastern side of Shepton Mallet and several local villages such as Lydford-on-Fosse, Pylle (Streeton-the-Fosse), Oakhill and Stratton-on-the-Fosse.
But it has long proved impossible to plot the route it took across Beacon Hill between Shepton Mallet and Oakhill.
Parish boundary stones show where the Romans would have entered and left the wood on top of the hill, but its exact course has remained a mystery.
But last year the Woodland Trust received a grant as part of a Local Heritage Initiative to carry out further investigations.
That survey was led by Pilton based archaeologist Peter Leach, who was the team leader during the Fosse Lane digs in Shepton Mallet in 1990.
He said: "During our research, we did some small excavations and surface surveys which uncovered something which might be the Fosse Way.
"We have produced images of the features in the wood and they will be on show during the guided walk on Sunday.
"There is everything from prehistoric burial mounds to fairly recent stuff created by the Home Guard when they used Beacon Wood during the Second World War.
"Because of the nature of the wood, so many things have survived down the years and there is a huge variety of artefacts and history up there."
After Sunday's walk, the team and officers from the Woodland Trust are going to continue working on a permanent information board to be placed at the entrance to the wood.
Woodland officer Sally Glass said: "We already know about Bronze Age and Roman objects, but the ongoing mystery has been the vanishing Roman Fosse Way.
"We know it must go through the wood but I am as keen as anyone to find out what is actually revealed on Sunday." The walk, which coincides with National Archaeology Week, starts from the wood's car park at 2.30pm and is expected to last until approximately 4pm. Everybody is welcome.
Protest Rally to Save Crownhill Down
Saturday September 20th
10AM TO 3 PM
Dartmoor Preservation Association, Old Duchy Hotel, Princetown PL20 6QF
Tel: 01822 890646
Advance News Release – further releases to follow
The Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) announced today that it is to organise a protest rally to draw attention to plans by the China Clay industry to destroy Crownhill Down – the nearest stretch of Dartmoor to the suburbs of Plymouth.
French-owned multinational minerals giant Imerys plans to quarry away part of Crownhill Down and tip millions of tons of clay waste on further stretches of this important area of lowland heath.
Crownhill Down has archaeology of international importance, is rich in botany, the largest growth of Marsh Clubmoss outside the New Forest, and has 21 rare species of rare dragonflies and damselflies. The Dartford Warbler has recently recolonised the Down. Crownhill Down has been recognised as a vitally important site by archaeologists, botanists, birdwatchers, and the many ramblers and horse riders who use its moorland for informal recreation.
The DPA’s campaign to save Crownhill Down has the support of the Ramblers’ Association, The Open Spaces Society, Plantlife UK, Rescue and other archaeological groups.
On the day of the rally walkers and riders will access Crownhill Down from several starting points and meet on its summit for a brief rally. This will be followed by interpretative rambles, a sponsored walk and pony ride.
Speaking today, DPA Chief Executive John Bainbridge said "Crownhill Down is just the kind of lowland heath that the government says should be protected. Our common heritage should not be sacrificed for the whim and profit of a multinational mineral company. We urge everyone who cares for Britain’s wild places to come to Crownhill Down and send a clear message to Imerys and Devon County Council that such destruction cannot be allowed."
If your readers want to come to the rally details will be available from mid-August on the DPA Website www.dartmoor-preservation-assoc.org.uk or can register support by leaving a name and address on our Action Hotline (01822 890 646) or writing to Crownhill Rally, Dartmoor Preservation Association, Old Duchy Hotel, Princetown, PL20 6QF.