Cutty Sark's £1.3m funding boost 


The lottery money will cover part of the ship's £25m restoration plan

The Cutty Sark Trust has been awarded £1.3m of lottery funding and a further £11.7m has been earmarked to help save the historic ship in south-east London.

The Grade I listed attraction, which is decaying, will be restored and turned into a maritime heritage centre of excellence in Greenwich.


In November, the trust said it would have to close the 143-year-old ship as an attraction without the grant.


The Heritage Lottery Fund has so far donated about £500,000 to the vessel.


The trust now needs to make a second, more detailed application, to finalise the larger donation.


The combined grants would help to pay for more than half of the £25m needed to save the ship.


The Heritage Lottery Fund has effectively saved the ship


Cutty Sark Trust chief executive Richard Doughty  

The architects Grimshaw, who designed the Eden Project in Cornwall, are working with the trust to develop the plan.


This includes raising the ship up in her dry berth so visitors can walk underneath and see the ship's conservation. Some of her sails would also be reinstated.


Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, said: "The Heritage Lottery Fund has effectively saved the ship.


"This groundbreaking project will not only conserve the fabric of the ship, but will also ensure she retains her status as a world class visitor attraction."


Carole Souter, director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said the move was a "wonderful use of lottery players' money".


If all the funding can be secured then work on the ship is due to begin next year.


The Cutty Sark - the world's only surviving tea clipper - was originally used to deliver tea from China and later collected wool from Australia.



Lottery cash to keep the Cutty Sark ship-shape

Heritage fund announces £13m in grants to save world's last surviving tea-clipper from the ravages of time

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent

Thursday January 27, 2005,The Guardian

One of the most beautiful historic ships in the world, the Cutty Sark, was yesterday thrown a lifebelt by the Heritage Lottery Fund which should ensure that her greyhound elegance will survive for future generations.

The radical design, which once made her the fastest ship on the seas, has been ripping the hull apart as the iron corroded and swelled, disintegrating rotting timbers. Without the £25m restoration project the Cutty Sark would have lost her public safety licence within two years and closed as a visitor attraction.


Yesterday, on board the ship - which has been an integral part of the Greenwich skyline for the last half century, seen by millions world wide as the backdrop to the London marathon - the fund announced a £1.2m development grant, and a further £11.75m, roughly half the cost of the work.


Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, said: "The Heritage Lottery Fund has effectively saved the ship."


Roy Clare, director of the nearby National Maritime Museum, and a former naval officer, promised any help his museum can give the project. "Cutty Sark is the epitome of our maritime history and indelibly associated in the public mind with the seafaring dimension of Britain's former empire ... The plea for funding is not to be nostalgic for 'empire' itself but to recognise that it is an inescapable part of our own and the world's history."


The ship was built for speed in 1869, to get the lucrative first harvest of tea back to market ahead of the competition, and is now the last surviving tea-clipper in the world. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who made the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in 1969, called her a thoroughbred and said anyone who had experienced "the watery Himalayas" of the Southern Ocean could only be in awe of her design.


The ship seemed doomed five years ago, when the lottery fund deferred a grant decision because they were not convinced of the viability of the scheme. The new application was backed with 1,500 pages of technical information, for a scheme designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw - who called the grant "wonderful news" - which involves suspending the ship in a kevlar web. This will both take the strain off the hull and allow the ship to be admired as never before, with people walking under the keel for the first time.


The money for Cutty Sark was among £78m in grants announced by the Heritage Lottery Fund yesterday, including a new building for the trans port museum in Glasgow, a new Museum of the North bringing together museum and local collections in Newcastle, a complete refurbishment of the Royal Albert museum in Exeter which will link the Victorian building to the nearby Roman city wall, and a scheme to transform the important but sadly dilapidated Tank Museum in Dorset.


The biggest grant, of £17.7m, will allow the National Library of Scotland to acquire the John Murray archive, an unrivalled collection from the 18th century publishing house including a wealth of Byron material and correspondence with Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle, David Livingstone and William Gladstone.


· The government yesterday announced an export bar on a major painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds - which is bound to become the subject of a lottery bid, as a British museum tries to match the £3.2m offered by a private overseas collector. The Archers shows two modish figures, Colonel John Dyke Acland and his friend Lord Sydney, engaged in the newly fashionable sport in dense woodland.


The export review committee, recommending the deferral, gave the picture a starred rating, implying that every effort should be made to keep it in the country. Unlike many works by the artist, the painting is in very good condition.



Arid Australian interior linked to landscape burning by ancient humans

Landscape burning by ancient hunters and gatherers may have triggered the failure of the annual Australian Monsoon some 12,000 years ago, resulting in the desertification of the country's interior that is evident today, according to a new study.


University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Gifford Miller said the study builds on his research group's previous findings that dozens of giant animal species went extinct in Australia roughly 50,000 years ago due to ecosystem changes caused by human burning. The new study indicates such burning may have altered the flora enough to decrease the exchange of water vapor between the biosphere and atmosphere, causing the failure of the Australian Monsoon over the interior.


"The question is whether localized burning 50,000 years ago could have had a continental-scale effect," said Miller, a fellow at CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. "The implications are that the burning practices of early humans may have changed the climate of the Australian continent by weakening the penetration of monsoon moisture into the interior."


A paper on the subject by Miller appears in the January issue of Geology. Co-authors include CU-Boulder's Jennifer Mangan, David Pollard, Starley Thompson and Benjamin Felzer of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and John Magee of Australian National University in Canberra.


Geologic evidence indicates the interior of Australia was much wetter about 125,000 years ago during the last interglacial period. Although planetary and meteorological conditions during the most recent ice age caused Earth's major monsoons to waver, all except the Australian Monsoon were "reinvigorated" to full force during the Holocene Period beginning about 12,000 years ago, he said.


Although the Australian Monsoon delivers about 39 inches of rain annually to the north coast as it moves south from Asia, only about 13 inches of rain now falls on the continent's interior each year, said Miller, also a CU-Boulder geological sciences professor. Lake Eyre, a deep-water lake in the continent's interior that was filled by regular monsoon rains about 60,000 years ago, is now a huge salt flat that is occasionally covered by a thin layer of salty water.


The earliest human colonizers are believed to have arrived in Australia by sea from Indonesia about 50,000 years ago, using fire as a tool to hunt, clear paths, signal each other and promote the growth of certain plants, he said. Fossil remains of browse-dependent birds and marsupials indicate the interior was made up of trees, shrubs and grasses rather than the desert scrub environment present today.


The researchers used global climate model simulations to evaluate the atmospheric and meteorological conditions in Australia over time, as well as the sensitivity of the monsoon to different vegetation and soil types. A climate model simulating a forested Australia produced twice as much annual monsoon precipitation over the continental interior as the model simulating arid scrub conditions, he said.


"Systematic burning across the semiarid zone, where nutrients are the lowest of any continental region, may have been responsible for the rapid transformation of a drought-tolerant ecosystem high in broad-leaf species to the modern desert scrub," he said. "In the process, vegetation feedbacks promoting the penetration of monsoon moisture into the continental interior would have been disrupted."


More than 85 percent of Australia's megafauna weighing more than 100 pounds went extinct roughly 50,000 years ago, including an ostrich-sized bird, 19 species of marsupials, a 25-foot-long lizard and a Volkswagen-sized tortoise, he said.


Evidence for burning includes increased charcoal deposits preserved in lake sediments at the boundary between rainforest and interior desert beginning about 50,000 years ago, Miller said. In addition, a number of rainforest gymnosperms -- plants whose seeds are not encased and protected and are therefore more vulnerable to fire -- went extinct at about that time.


Natural fires resulting from summer lightning strikes have played an integral part in the ecology of Australia's interior, and many plant species are adapted to regimes of frequent fires, he said. "But the systematic burning of the interior by the earliest colonizers differed enough from the natural fire cycle that key ecosystems may have been pushed past a threshold from which they could not recover."


The National Science Foundation and the Australian Research Council funded the study with additional support from Australian National University and CU-Boulder.



Bronze Age skeletons found in dig 


Archaelologists say the skeletons are over 3,000 years old

Archaeologists have unearthed a unique site in Kent which they claim contains the best preserved examples of Bronze Age skeletons.

The discovery was made in a six-month excavation of a plot of land in Ramsgate, which is due to be the site of a new housing development.


The location has not been revealed because of its national importance.


Archaeologist Darren Godden said the find would help explain what happened to human remains during the Bronze Age.


'Perfectly preserved'


"This is of real national importance because graves from this period just aren't really found.


"Yet here we have a number of different skeletons," he said.


The skeletons have been preserved from decay for over 3,000 years in the clay soil.


Archaeologists said they did not want the exact location of the dig disclosed in case it was disturbed.


John Elliot from Millwood Design Homes said his first thought was of the high cost of not being able to build on the land until, the dig is complete


"But my second thought as a citizen is that the discovery is very exciting", he said.


The skeletons are due to go on show to the public at an exhibition in Thanet in February.



Archaeologists find ancient musical instruments



Musical instruments thought to be about 3,000 years old have been found by a team of Vietnamese archeologists.


Known as lithophones, the ancient instruments are typically made of 11 slabs of stone.


The lithophones were found in the southern province of Binh Duong in early January at a site that stretches some 20ha near a small hill in My Loc village in Tan My Commune of Tan Uyen District.


The broken instruments were buried deep in an 8sq.m pit, said Dr Bui Chi Hoang, deputy director of the Archaeology Centre of the Southern Institute for Social and Human Sciences.


Hoang said the first discovery of ancient lithophones took place at an archeaological dig in Binh Da Village in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.


"This finding marks a milestone in the long history of traditional musical instruments in the country," he said.


In 1949, lithophones were also found by French ethnologist Georges Condominas in N’Dut Lieng Krac Village of the Central Highlands province of Dac Lac. The instrument was exhibited in Paris a year later.


Hoang said an ancient Vietnamese lithophone is also housed in a museum in Los Angeles.


Ancient lithophones have been found in Loc Tan (Binh Phuoc Province) and Di Linh (Lam Dong Province) as well.


Prof Le Xuan Diem, of the Southern Institute of Social and Human Sciences, said the instrument was previously believed to be a musical instrument of the people in the Central Highlands.


"But recent discoveries have shown that lithophones were also used in ancient villages along Dong Nai River."


The My Loc archeological site was jointly excavated by the Archeology Centre and Binh Duong Museum under a programme conducted by the Binh Duong Department for Sciences and Technology from December 6 last year to January 12.


In addition to ancient lithophones, archeologists found hundreds of pieces of stone tools such as axes, hoes, graters, and porcelain wares, including pots, jars and bowls.


These remains have helped archeologists date the site to 3,000 to 3,500 years ago.


The discovery also sheds light on the history of the eastern section of the South Viet Nam and Binh Duong Province. — VNS



Classical treasures threatened by Vesuvius

(Filed: 17/01/2005)


An earthquake or volcanic eruption is likely to destroy a library of ancient books at Herculaneum, near Pompeii, before they can be excavated unless urgent action is taken, according to the founder of a new group based in Oxford.


Scientists have discovered new ways to read 1,800 charred manuscript scrolls already found in the ruins of the so-called Villa of Papyri at Herculaneum, a city that, like neighbouring Pompeii, was buried in volcanic matter when Vesuvius erupted in AD79.


Scholars are convinced that many more scrolls lie awaiting discovery there, among which are probably lost books by great authors such as Aristotle and Livy.


"The chances are very high that much remains to be found in three newly identified and unexplored levels," Professor Robert Fowler told a meeting of the Herculaneum Society at Wadham College, Oxford, at the weekend.


The society was founded last year to promote the excavation and preservation of sites at Herculaneum before it is too late.


The ancient city on the Bay of Naples, covered by up to 100ft of lava, lies on a fault line like that which led to the Indian Ocean tsunami, and renewed volcanic activity or an earthquake could destroy its remains for ever.


Vulcanologists believe that an eruption of Vesuvius is overdue.


In an eyewitness description of the eruption of AD79, Pliny the Younger wrote of the sea retreating, as in the Indian Ocean disaster, while the ground shook.


"A dense haze was following at our backs, like a stream flowing on land," wrote Pliny, "and night fell on us, like the darkness in a closed place without a lamp."


Though he was on the other side of the Bay of Naples, he was lucky to escape, shaking ash from him as he went, feeling it weighing him down and choking him.


The huge Villa of the Papyri, which belonged to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, extended for 250 yards along the shore. "It must be possible that a family capable of owning such a villa also possessed a copy of Livy's History of Rome, of which more than 100 of the original 142 books are missing," says the writer Robert Harris, author of the best-seller Pompeii.


"It appears that slaves had been trying to carry crates of books to safety when they were overwhelmed by the eruption," he says. "There may be lost plays by Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, or even the lost dialogues of Aristotle."


Scholars at the Herculaneum Society meeting agreed that works lost to humanity for two millennia could be retrieved.


But strong opposition to immediate excavation came from Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, director of the British School at Rome and an acknowledged expert on Herculaneum.


"It would be a scandal to expose the Villa of the Papyri to the daylight now, before we can guarantee that it would be saved for the future," he said.


Prof Wallace-Hadrill pointed to damage suffered by parts of Herculaneum excavated in the 1930s and 1990s.


"Restored roofs are in collapse, broken tiles litter mosaic floors, the precious carbonised wood crumbles constantly, rain forms pools on marble floors and against plastered walls, and the frescoed surfaces fade, leach in Hercusalts, bubble up, explode and fall from their walls."


Prof Fowler disagrees. "So long as there is a chance of finding the rest of the library - and everyone admits there is a chance, however strong or weak they rate it - we owe it to the world to dig."


Because the rest of the villa lies beneath the modern town of Ercolano, Prof Fowler advocates tunnelling, a feasibility study for which should be concluded this year. But Professor Wallace-Hadrill quoted a warning made when modern-day excavations began in 1927: "Were we to make an excavation by which the ancient city died for a second time, it would have been better to leave it sleeping under the hard mud."


One reason for thinking that lost works by Aristotle lie beneath the volcanic layers is that the hundreds of papyri already studied almost certainly belonged to Philodemus (110-35BC), a philosopher engaged in opposing Aristotle's poetic theory.


The Herculaneum Society meeting gasped like spectators at a firework display when Nigel Wilson, of Lincoln College, Oxford, showed a slide of a blackened roll of papyrus on which no writing could be seen, and then showed what it looked like after multi-spectral digital imaging had been used on it. Clear lines of ancient Greek script appeared, like invisible ink held before the fire.



Roman work in Faliron stream

Last week’s heavy rainfall in Athens has led to the discovery of a Roman marble statue which had been apparently dumped in a streambed in the southern suburbs, an archaeologist said yesterday.


The 1.8-meter tall marble torso of a young man was spotted on Thursday night in the Pikrodafni streambed, in Palaio Faliron — near the intersection of Dimocratias and Pikrodafnis Streets — by a passer-by who alerted authorities, said Yiorgos Steinhauer, head of the Culture Ministry’s local antiquities department.


The first-century-AD work is a Roman copy of a fourth-century-BC classical original and possibly represents Apollo Lykeios. Steinhauer said the statue could have been recently discovered by builders during construction work, and dumped in the streambed for fear archaeologists might stop the works if alerted to the find. (Combined reports)


5,000-year-old settlement found in Colorado


Five thousand years ago, a band of ancient people built homes on the edge of a stream in what is now Parker (Colorado, USA). It was not a temporary camp, like so many of the archaeological discoveries made from that period of time. People here made large houses, some of them 24 feet across, with wood posts and walls of brush or hide. They probably spent months in the area and may have returned, again and again, over centuries.       


In November, a team of archaeologists working at a construction site in Parker uncovered what might be the most complete evidence in Colorado of lives lived about 5,000 years ago. The experts have about a month or two before the site will probably be demolished to make way for Parker's new reservoir complex.    


The artifacts found in Parker - the toe bone of an ancient bison, hundreds of spear points and especially the rare home sites - will help archaeologists understand a period of time about which they know relatively little, said Erik Gantt, lead archaeologist for Centennial. The people who lived on Colorado's plains 5,000 years ago were nomadic hunters and gatherers, he said. They apparently lived in small family groups, hunting everything from rabbits to bison and collecting seeds and berries. They might have settled into larger groups for the winter but moved often, probably following game. On a nearby mesa, his team has discovered tens of thousands of spear points and other tools from about the same time, and a stone circle, which seems ceremonial, he said.        The homes were dug about a foot or more into the ground, then circled with posts and probably draped with animal hides or brush, Gantt said. He and his crew have discovered fire pits in the centers of the structures, and storage pits, probably for dried meat or pemmican, a mixture of meat, berries and other foods. Archaeologists have found similar hamlets, also about 5,000 years old, in Wyoming's Wind River Range and Colorado's San Luis Valley, he said. People back then apparently had trade networks stretching for hundreds of miles.       


Many archaeologists are frustrated at the irony that development projects often unearth ancient sites, just before they are destroyed. But the quick work done at such sites can turn up important relics. 



Neolithic village found in China


The Ningbo Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology announced that, after a 4-month excavation of 725 square meters, they have confirmed the discovery of a 7,000-year-old village of the early Hemudu culture. The site is at Fujiashan in the Jiangbei District of Ningbo City, in the eastern province of Zhejiang (China).       


According to a specialist from the institute, the site is one of the largest-scale, highest-yield and best-preserved sites in the province after the Hemudu site itself. The relics excavated showed it to be a Neolithic site in the early stage of Hemudu culture, which involved cultivation, fishing, hunting and gathering.       


Chu Xiaobo, the institute's deputy head, said the Fujiashan site is 20 kilometers from the Hemudu site and 5-6 kilometers from the recently discovered Tianluoshan site, which belongs to the same culture. The position of the three sites indicates that the Yaojiang River may have been the home of the Hemudu culture. The Fujiashan site was wood-based, facing east and with Fujia Mountain to its west. It's more than 30 meters wide and 16 meters deep. Wares have been found that were constructed using slots and pairs of tenons - the first time these have been found in the Hemudu culture.       


Archeologists said the inhabitants built houses and settled down as their lifestyle shifted from hunting animals to planting vegetables, raising livestock and making handicrafts. They found many fragments of charcoal, connected with the marks made by fire on the top and surface of crossbeams, suggesting that it may have been fire that destroyed the village eventually.        Wu Xiangdong, the head of the institute, said they had unearthed a large number of relics. The most numerous were earthenware - recoverable items totaled more than 470 - and some were first examples in Hemudu culture, as were the patterns engraved onto them. Among the relics, the most delicate and vivid was an eagle-head-shaped piece of ivory, chiseled on both front and back. The eagle's beak is hook-shaped and its eyes wide open, giving it a fierce and powerful countenance. Another eagle-shaped earthenware item was also recovered, in the form of a bird spreading its wings, and was another first time discovery for this period. Another interesting find was a pot full of cooked water chestnuts. The archaeologists speculated that it might have been abandoned after a sudden disaster, such as a flood, fire, or an attack from wild animals or enemies. 

Source: People's Daily Online (26 January 2005)