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Iceman cometh - from Italy

By Jo McAllister in Vienna

July 25, 2003

 

A BITTER row between Austria and Italy over which country can claim to be home to the world's oldest ice mummy has been settled thanks to the work of a scientist

 

from an Australian university. The 5300-year-old mummy, known as Oetzi after the Oetz Valley region between the two countries where he was found, was at the centre of the bizarre ownership row after his corpse was found on the mountainous border region separating the two, in the disputed region of South Tyrol.

The question of whether Oetzi was an Austrian heading to Italy or an Italian heading to Austria has been the source of heated debate, especially since the ice mummy has proven to be a multi-million dollar tourist attraction.

Oetzi's corpse was discovered under a melting glacier in Tyrol in 1991 and, although he is now housed in Italy's Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, both countries had claimed ownership of the frozen corpse.

A deal was eventually agreed that allowed Austria to have the body for a few years before allowing the Italians to take it for a while. But neither had given up their claim to being home to Oetzi.

But now Dr Wolfgang Mueller from the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra has found Oetzi was in fact from South Tyrol in Italy, and definitely did not come from North Tyrol in Austria.

He was able to prove it after examining the iceman's dental enamel and bone and comparing the minerals he found with isotopes found to the north and south of the main Alpine ridge dividing Austria from Italy.

Dr Mueller said the results showed the late Neolithic man had spent his life in what is now Italy, and had probably never been further north than the spot where he was found.

The evidence from the iceman's teeth was so clear, Dr Mueller was able to conclude Oetzi's home during his childhood had been the Eisack Valley in South Tyrol.

He said that in childhood, mineral deposits were built into a person's dental enamel that stayed for their entire lives.

In addition, using similar tests on the iceman's leg bone, Dr Mueller was able to find that in the last 10 to 20 years of his life he had remained in the Lower Vinschgau in the west of South Tyrol in Italy.

"From the enamel it is possible to reconstruct the composition of the water Oetzi drank and get clues about the earth where his food was grown," Dr Mueller said.

"As a result we now know Oetzi came from near to where he was found from the Eisack Valley. He spent his childhood there. And he spent his adulthood in Lower Vinschgau."

Dr Mueller also concluded that Oetzi had not made any extensive hikes through Europe and did not spend any long periods in high mountains regions, despite the height of the remote spot where he had been found.

The findings are the latest in a wealth of information that has been yielded from studying the corpse.

Other researchers, for example, have discovered arrow wounds on the body that suggest the iceman may have been on the run from enemies, or wounded in a hunting expedition that went wrong.

And tattoos found on his body have shown that Europeans practised acupuncture some 2,000 years before the Chinese. There were 15 groups of simple tattoos on the back and legs which tallied with those used in modern acupuncture.

The iceman, who is thought to have died of exhaustion at the age of about 45, suffered from acute arthritis, worms and diarrhoea.

When he died he was carrying a wooden-handled copper axe, small bow and 14 arrows made of viburnum and dogwood stored in a fur quiver.

A framed backpack contained food for the journey, including a few berries and mushrooms and gnawed bones, as well as a flint knife.

Because he suffered from arthritis he had stuffed his shoes with straw to keep out the cold. A grass net that may have served as a sack hung from his belt, and a leather pouch was strapped to the frame of the backpack to carry this gear.

He died in the rock cranny where he had crawled to escape the winds and was covered in snow a thousand years before Abraham was even heard of.

Oetzi is now on display in a special glass walled fridge and kept at a temperature of minus six degrees centigrade at a humidity of 98 per cent in the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.

 

Cambodia's forgotten temples fall prey to looters

Guards now patrol Angkor Wat but other cultural sites are being plundered daily

AAP

John Aglionby in Phoum Snay

Thursday July 31, 2003

The Guardian

 

The three freshly dug holes under the two arching palm trees measured a metre by about half a metre, and about half a metre deep. A few fragments of what appeared to be centuries-old clay pots were scattered around the excavation site, seemingly discarded as worthless in the hunt for more valuable treasure.

"We find new holes every week," said Ndson Hun, a farmer living in the nearby village of Phoum Snay. "The demand [for artefacts] is as great as ever, so people keep digging."

No one knows the extent of the riches at Phoum Snay, an unremarkable Cambodian village about 40 miles north-west of Angkor Wat, the complex of 100 9th to 15th-century Buddhist temples seen as among the world's architectural wonders. But, unlike at Angkor Wat, there are no heritage police here, no Unesco staff, and no local authorities to guard the site.

As the latest holes testify, anyone wishing to pillage the remaining hidden riches will encounter few obstacles. Experts fear the decades-long looting for artefacts across Cambodia is now so rampant there will soon be little left outside the splendours of the Unesco world heritage site at Angkor.

"Almost all sites of antiquity and temples far from towns are being destroyed," said Michel Trenet, the undersecretary of state at Cambodia's culture and fine arts ministry. "Naturally, the priority for us is to protect the Angkor sites and then think about the others. But we don't have enough guards and people are not motivated to protect their heritage. Cambodia is becoming a cultural desert."

Phoum Snay is a classic example. On its discovery, almost three years ago, the site was thought to have been a mass grave for victims of the Khmer Rouge, the communists who ruled from 1975-79 and under whose regime some 1.7 million people were executed or died from disease and starvation.

Then, when iron-age artefacts, including weapons, jewellery, pots and trinkets, started appearing, the site was reassessed as the burial ground of an ancient army. The researchers moved in, and digging started. Thousands of items were found.

Yet little was done to secure the area and antiques traders - people mainly from neighbouring Thailand, say villagers, and seeking to sell Khmer treasures abroad - now have virtual free rein.

Their success is shown by the regularity with which Khmer artefacts appear at auction around the world. At any one time, dozens of Khmer "treasures" are on offer on the eBay auction website.

Poverty and greed are considered the two main motivations behind the looting. Monks living in a temple half a mile from Phoum Snay believe the villagers are involved in the illicit digging, despite protestations by Ndson Hun and his friends.

"The villagers are doing it because they are so poor," said Moy Sau, clad in his traditional saffron-coloured robes. "They don't respect their heritage because they can't afford to turn down an offer of a few dollars for a night's work."

Chea Vannath, president of the Centre for Social Development, says that the average annual income in Cambodia is about 155 a year - much lower in rural areas. "Protecting our cultural heritage is a luxury," she said. "People are fighting to survive so they don't know better."

Moy Sau does not dare warn the authorities about the looting: "As a monk I cannot do anything because I rely on the villagers for my food."

Preservation

Even if he raised the alarm, that might not ensure the artefacts' preservation since government officials and members of the security forces are also involved in the trade, widespread reports suggest.

A stone carver based a few miles away, in Phumi Rohal, who was too afraid to give his name, said some provincial government officials last month asked him to build a base for a "half Buddha" that one of their bosses had acquired.

"I was suspicious even though they had lots of letters and said it would be kept in a temple," he said. "But I did it because I'm afraid of the authorities. Us little people can do nothing against them."

With the country's legal system being so corrupt, the "dark forces", Mr Trenet says, are too powerful, even for him.

A tour of Toul Ta Puon, known as the Russian market, in the capital, Phnom Penh, proves his point, with shops packed with tall cabinets full of artefacts. Bronze-age axe heads and rings sell for less than 15. One intricately carved 11th-century, long-necked water jar was 30.

The shopkeepers appear motivated only by money and refuse to lower their prices, even for Mr Trenet, though most recognise him. "I would like to buy all [the artefacts] for the museum. But my salary is only [155] a month so what can I do?" he says.

 

ICE AGE SITE WINS CASH AID

An ambitious project to preserve an Ice Age site has been given a cash boost by council chiefs.

 

An ambitious project to preserve an Ice Age site has been given a cash boost by council chiefs.

 

Derbyshire County Council has awarded 10,000 to help Creswell Heritage Trust continue its work in the Creswell Crags area.

 

The site hit the national headlines in June after archaeologists discovered the world's most northerly Palaeolithic cave paintings.

 

The Heritage Trust is leading a 14m regeneration focusing on the Crags and the nearby village of Creswell.

 

Major progress has already been made on the scheme's objectives, which are to:

 

* Divert a section of the B6042 Crags Road from Creswell Crags Gorge to protect the site and create a public bridleway for walkers, cyclists and horse riders;

* Improve the site's museum and educational facilities;

* Relocate the sewage works from Creswell Crags.

Cllr Bob Janes, county community services chief, said: "Creswell Heritage Trust is a small charitable organisation but the work it does and amount of grant aid it attracts to this part of the county is invaluable.

 

"We are delighted to support its efforts to protect what is a site of tremendous historical importance and the same time regenerate the former coal mining area."

 

Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire County Councils combined to set up the Creswell Heritage Trust in 1990 to safeguard the future of the site.

 

Ancient history damaged by farmers

31 July 2003

Advances in farming have caused more damage

Thousands of archaeological sites are being damaged by farmers, English Heritage has warned.

Ploughs had damaged or destroyed valuable sites, including Neolithic long barrows, Roman villas, Anglo-Saxon cemeteries and medieval field systems.

English Heritage wants for a new strategy to protect sites but said farmers were not to blame.

"They have only been doing what society has asked and agricultural policy has dictated," said chief executive Simon Thurley.

"Modern intensive ploughing has arguably done more damage in six decades than traditional agriculture did in the preceding six centuries."

A new strategy would need the support of farmers and also reward them for stewardship, Dr Thurley said.

Since 1945 many sites, including some of the oldest visible monuments, have been destroyed or are being seriously damaged, ploughed up or degraded by increasingly powerful farm machinery and ever more intensive cultivation, English Heritage said.

Modern machinery

Examples of sites damaged by ploughing include numerous prehistoric burial grounds and an exquisite Roman mosaic floor at Dinnington in Somerset, which has been heavily scored by deep ploughing.

Precious objects are also at risk. Only two out of 39 Bronze Age metalwork hoards recovered from Norfolk in the last 30 years had not been disturbed by farming, it said.

 Modern intensive ploughing has arguably done more damage in six decades than traditional agriculture did in the preceding six centuries

Simon Thurley

English Heritage

A 4,000-year-old gold cup, discovered in a field at Ringlemere in Kent and recently bought by the British Museum, had been distorted by the impact of a plough.

The character of whole landscapes has also been damaged by intensive cultivation as in Padbury, Buckinghamshire, where medieval ridge and furrows, well preserved in the 1950s, hedgerows and field trees have been destroyed.

The English Heritage campaign, Ripping Up History, coincides with the publication of a consultation paper on the Review of Heritage Protection, which the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is carrying out in partnership with English Heritage.

It is aimed at improving the ways the past is protected.

Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh said: "Archaeological sites contain a wealth of material that charts the development of civilisation in this country.

"It is vitally important that we do as much as we can to protect this heritage so that future generations will have a better understanding of our history."

'No malicious intent'

The National Farmers' Union said the government, local authorities and archaeologists needed to work with farmers to investigate how more effective protection can be given to ancient sites on farmland.

The union's environment chairman John Seymour said: "In the majority of cases, damage that has been caused to these sites has been the result of farmers not being informed about the sites rather than as a result of any malicious intent."

The English Heritage report says nearly 3,000 nationally important monuments are today under cultivation.

Although legislation gives protection to these monuments from most threats, in many cases it permits them to be ploughed, even though it can cause damage to fragile and irreplaceable archaeological remains.

 

Ancient coins found in Suffolk village

July 30, 2003 17:03

 

TREASURE-hunting enthusiast James Arms chanced upon a 2000-year-old coin in a Suffolk village, which has been enthusiastically snapped up by the British Museum.

 

Mr Arms, 41, of Thackeray Road, Ipswich, has been metal-detecting for about 20 years, but tends to only find ring pulls, buttons and bits of lead.

 

But while searching in the village of Nettlestead, near Blakenham, Mr Arms chanced upon an unusual silver coin, embossed with a wild-haired head on one side and a Celtic horse on the other.

 

It turned out to be an Iron Age coin dating from around 50BC. Known as a Bury coin named after the origin of such coins from the Bury St Edmunds region the coin was most likely made by the Iceni tribe.

 

The Iceni tribe, which populated north-west Suffolk and Norfolk, are most famous for their spirited revolt against the Roman invaders, led by Boudicca (Bodicea), in AD60.

 

Mr Arms said: "Such finds are a real bonus. It is normally just the usual rubbish, such as ring pulls, cartridges, buttons and bits of scrap.

 

"So when I found this coin I thought it was about time. The last time I found a coin like this was in 2001.

 

"In the past, I have also found Bronze Age and Roman coins, brooches and even a Bronze Age axe head."

 

Since 1999, Mr Arms has found six of these Bury coins. The British Museum paid Mr Arms about 80 for the first five and this latest coin is currently being valued.

 

These coins make up the British Museum's entire collection of Bury Coins, but there seems to be different suggestions as to what the coins were doing there.

 

John Newman, archeological head officer for Suffolk County Council, said: "These coins are very important. Finds like these show what happened in the Iron Age.

 

"These coins show that there was contact between Iron Age tribes all throughout East Anglia and the Gipping Valley probably through trade routes."

 

But Richard Abdy, coin curator at the British Museum, suggests a different interpretation. He said: "I think it is most likely that someone buried a hoard of coins, which was then forgotten about. This sort of activity was quite commonplace right up until the coming of banks."

 

Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean deemed Mr Arms' latest Bury coin treasure, at a treasure trove inquest held in Ipswich last week.

 

TREASURES COULD MARK SITE OF ROMAN TEMPLE

10:30 - 29 July 2003

 

A Roman temple containing thousands of ancient artefacts may have been discovered lying just three feet beneath a Lincolnshire field.

 

Coins, brooches, bronze armour and mosaic tiles all from the first century have been found at the site near Market Rasen.

 

Interest in the field was sparked by a man who regularly uses a metal detector to scan the surface for buried objects - in the past three months he has found more than 200 artefacts at the site.

 

He reported his finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a project run by Lincolnshire County Council which records archaeological objects found by members of the public.

 

Finds liaison officer Adam Daubney (24) said it was an important discovery.

 

"Objects found at site include a knife handle which is embossed with a bull's head, a pair of brooches, a complete bronze bowl and a statuette of the goddess Minerva.

 

"And there were three finds described as 'treasure' - which means that they contain 10 per cent gold. For such prized artefacts to be together it means the site would have been used by the Romans."

 

A team from the council's conservation department is investigating the finds but is not yet sure what the discoveries represent.

 

"We do not think it is a domestic dwelling because we know there is a Roman villa nearby and villas tend to be spread far apart," he said.

 

"But it could be the site of a Roman temple which may explain why there are so many expensive finds at the one site.

 

"Maybe these are sacrificial offering to Roman gods."

 

The department is now planning to investigate the site to find out exactly what is beneath the surface.

 

Mr Daubney said: "Geophysical tests will provide us with pictures which will show the shape of any buildings that lie under the surface.

 

"Trenches will be dug to see what further objects can be found and aerial photographs should give us an impression of how big the Roman site was."

 

Since the Portable Antiquities Scheme was set up in April, 565 finds have been recorded and published and there are more than 2,500 objects still to be sorted through.

 

The council's conservation team researches and records each artefact, using the specialist books, the county museum reference library and a network of specialist experts.

 

Conservation services manager Steve Catney said the scheme was proving to be an important project. "By recording more objects from across the county we are drawing up an invaluable picture of what sort of people used to live in Lincolnshire," he said.

 

"And it is important finders report their artefacts - under the Treasure Act 1996 people have a legal obligation to report all finds of gold and silver objects and groups of coins more than 300 years old.

 

"Finds may be retained by museums but finders are entitled to the proper value of the item."

 

Anyone who has found any artefacts should call Adam Daubney on (01522) 553112.

 

HOW DID A NORTH AFRICAN COIN FROM 47BC END UP IN A LINCOLNSHIRE FIELD?

10:30 - 30 July 2003

 

A silver coin minted in north Africa 47 years before the birth of Christ has been found in a Lincolnshire field.

 

Amateur archaeologist Adge Winstanley (55) discovered the coin while he was searching a farmer's field in Wragby, near Lincoln.

 

The artefact - a silver denarius - is potentially the oldest coin ever found in Lincolnshire. Mr Winstanley of East Barkwith, near Louth, was using his metal detector to scour the land when he came across the coin.

 

"I picked the site because I knew Roman pottery was regularly found on the surface," he said.

 

"After targeting a particular area of the field I noticed that one section was giving a high bleep count.

 

"After a few quick digs I found this coin - it was literally three inches below the surface."

 

Mr Winstanley has been scouring the Lincolnshire countryside for the past 20 years and has found lots of Roman coins.

 

"Obviously I could tell they were coins but I had never seen anything like this - I thought it maybe from ancient Greece," he said.

 

Once the coin had been cleaned he reported the find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme - a project run by Lincolnshire County Council which records archaeological objects found by members of the public.

 

The team researched the coin and found it was minted in North Africa between 47 and 46 BC.

 

Mr Winstanley, who runs Ancient World, in Steep Hill, Lincoln, said: "Over the years I have found a Bronze age axe head, an Iron age spear and bits of pottery.

 

"But this is probably the oldest item I have come across. And to be told it was an extremely rare British find is what I live for.

 

"It is amazing to think the last person to touch the coin, before me, was Roman."

 

Once the coin was identified and logged by the council it was given back to Mr Winstanley.

 

He said: "I will keep this now as a family heirloom, I don't know how much it's worth and I don't care.

 

"It is a part of history and that is what matters."

 

Lincolnshire County Council's Find Liaisons Officer, Adam Daubney (24), said: "This coin was minted before the Romans invaded Britain - so it really is quite an amazing discovery.

 

"This type of coin would have been in circulation until about AD110. It is a very unusual find, and extremely well preserved."

 

Depicted on the reverse face of the coin is the Roman Empire's Head of Africa - at the time this was the Metellus family. The man is wearing an elephant skin hat and to his side is a sheaf of wheat.

 

On the coin's front is a picture of Hercules - the Roman god of victory and commerce.

 

Mr Daubney said: "We didn't know of any early Roman activity in the area of the find until this coin came to our attention. It is a great find and perhaps one of the oldest Roman coins ever found in our county."

 

He said most Roman coins found in Britain dated from after the invasion of 43AD.

 

Anyone who has found an artefact should call Mr Daubney on (01522) 553112.

 

Write to: Adam Daubney, Lincolnshire County Council, Floor 3, City Hall, Lincoln.

 

2,000-year-old pot opened

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent

Tuesday July 29, 2003

The Guardian

 

Almost 2,000 years ago, at a temple in Roman London, someone with slender fingers took a small tin box, scooped a blob of white paste into the lid, and used that as a palette to smear the paste on to ... a face? Hands? An image of a god? The archaeologists jostling for position yesterday, as the box was opened for the first time in almost 2,000 years, had no idea.

The beautifully made box was easier to open than a new jar of Marmite. There was a gasp as conservator Liz Barham gently twisted off the lid to reveal perfectly preserved fingerprints, so small they may have been those of a woman or even a child. There was a second gasp as the smell hit the company.

"Asses' milk?" wondered Francis Grew, the curator of archaeology at the Museum of London. "Asses' yoghurt," retorted Hedley Swaine, the keeper of early London archaeology.

"A somewhat sulphurous smell, highly characteristic of waterlogged deposits from that site," Ms Barham said carefully. "And cheesy," she added, unable to stop her nose from wrinkling as the paste warmed under the camera lights.

The discovery of the container with its contents as intact as the day it was closed is unique in Britain.

"We're into absolutely uncharted territory here," archaeologist Gary Brown said. "There's nothing like it to compare it with, we're looking into the darkness."

The box was found a week ago in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames in London, at a dig which was startling archaeologists until the last hours, on Friday, when a bronze foot, which must have been part of a colossal statue, was found in the mud.

It had been expected to be a routine excavation of an area of small houses and workshops, by Pre-Construct Archaeology and consultants EC Harris, in advance of house building. What they actually found was an unknown Romano-Celtic temple complex, dating from the 2nd century AD, the first ever found in London and described yesterday as one of the most important discoveries of a Roman site in the past 50 years in Britain.

Until very recently experts had believed the area to have been swampy ground with some rough grazing and scattered settlements. It is now known to have been an integral part of Roman London, both important and wealthy. Last year a stone with the earliest known inscription of Lundinium was found at the site.

Mr Grew said that worshippers at the temple were likely to have been prosperous bourgeoisie, rather than the highest echelon of officials. The box was well made and would have been an expensive item, "but I think we're talking Mappin and Webb rather than Aspreys here".

The paste will have to be tested. If it is organic, it may have been a skin cream. If it is mineral, it could be a cosmetic used to whiten the face for ceremonies at the temple.

The box will be on show at the Museum of London until September.

 

Capsule reveals cream of Roman society

 

A Roman pot unearthed at an archaeological dig in London has been opened to reveal cream which is nearly 2,000 years old.

The sealed pot full of ointment, complete with finger marks, was discovered at a Roman temple complex in Southwark, south London.

The tin pot is about six centimetres wide and plainly decorated.

The substance was described as still wet but smelling "sulphurous".

Initial guesses of its function ranged from cosmetic face cream and toothpaste to something that was smeared on goats before they were killed.

The pot was found in a Roman drain and appears to have been deliberately hidden.

It was opened before the media at the Museum of London by museum conservator Liz Barham.

 

We've been asked several times what to expect in there, but I don't think we could have expected that it would be so full, or that it would be some kind of cosmetic, moisturising cream or whatever it is  Gary Brown, managing director

As she opened it, a strong sulphurous smell was released.

Ms Barham said: "If this is a sealed Roman container, those are Roman finger marks."

The discovery was unearthed in July by Pre-Construct Archaeology, whose managing director, Gary Brown, looking over Ms Barham's shoulder, said: "I'm astounded.

"We've been asked several times what to expect in there, but I don't think we could have expected that it would be so full, or that it would be some kind of cosmetic, moisturising cream or whatever it is.

"Clearly, Roman creams of any type, paint or cosmetic, do not normally survive in the archaeological record, we don't know if it's unique, but it's pretty exceptional."

Francis Grew, curator of the museum, said it was known that the Romans used asses' milk as a face cream.

The religious complex is the first in London and one of the most important ever seen in Britain.

The site is rare evidence of organised religion in London at the time and opens out a previously hidden district of the ancient city.

Two square Romano-Celtic temples have been found, with a possible guesthouse all contained within a precinct.

The small to medium-sized stone temple buildings date to around the mid-second-century AD.

 

London's Last Ancient City Gate Set to Return

Wed July 9, 2003 11:19 AM ET

By F. Brinley Bruton

 

LONDON (Reuters) - The last of the City of London's ancient perimeter gates is to return to the capital after more than a century in ignominious exile.

Temple Bar -- an elaborate stone archway complete with spikes for traitors' heads -- will become a feature of a new development near St Paul's Cathedral, just half a mile from its original site.

"It was a very important landmark that simply got lost," said John Ansell, administrator of Temple Bar Trust, set up to return it to London.

Finished in 1672, the gate stood on the original Temple Bar site on The Strand, the artery joining Westminster, the seat of political power, and London's financial center, The City.

A huge, monolithic structure, adorned with statues around its central archway, it was designed by Christopher Wren and carved from creamy Portland stone.

But as the years passed, building fashions changed and by the time architects were planning the nearby Courts of Justice in the 19th Century, it looked plain obsolete.

So the structure was demolished, stone by stone and sold to Sir Henry Meux, a brewer, who erected it in the form of a gateway to his park and mansion house at Theobalds, to the north of London.

That estate in turn disintegrated and now Temple Bar sits alone in the woods, caked with ivy and algae, its statues hidden from vandals.

Temple Bar was one among many gates, like Aldgate, Bishopsgate and Moorgate, which marked entrances in the old Roman wall around the City of London.

Documents from 1293 mention "the Bar at the New Temple," which was probably no more than two posts linked by a chain. A wooden building was erected about 50 years later.

The gate welcomed the Black Prince, Edward of Wales, who rode through it with his captive, the King of France, after the battle of Poitiers in 1356.

A triumphal Queen Elizabeth I rode by chariot through Temple Bar on her way to a thanksgiving service after her navy defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.

But not all its history was glorious.

The gate housed an infamous jail and there was often a plentiful supply of heads to impale on the gory spikes.

Cleaning up the gate and moving it back home will take an estimated 18 months.

 

Row over statue with 2ft erection in Salzburg

A row has broken out between Salzburg authorities and a city museum over a giant statue of a man with a two-foot erection that was covered up to save the blushes of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

The contemporary sculpture was erected in a public square by the Rupertinum Museum of Modern Art on the eve of the Prince's visit to Salzburg.

City mayor Heinz Schaden said officials had been deliberately misled by the directors of the museum.

He said that authorities had given the go-ahead for the project after seeing a sketch of the statue but added it did not correspond to the final controversial artwork called Arc de Triomphe.

He said: "The city was deliberately kept in the dark."

But museum spokesman Peter Baldinger said: "We can't have civil servants deciding on what can be considered art or not."

The sculpture which shows a naked man bending over backwards was covered up with a tarpaulin before Prince Charles arrived to avoid any chance that it might offend him.

Charles, who was accompanied by Camilla Parker Bowles, was the guest of honour at the official reception for the annual Salzburg Festival.