Ethiopia Archaeologists Make Important Fossil Find

Sat Mar 5, 2005 12:03 PM GMT


ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Archaeologists studying human origins in eastern Ethiopia have discovered 12 fossils that appear to be older than the famous fossil "Lucy," the team leader said on Saturday.

"The discovery of 12 early hominid fossil specimens estimated to be between 3.8 to 4 million years old will be important in terms of understanding the early phases of human evolution before Lucy," Ethiopian archeologist Yohannes Haile Selassie told a news conference.


"It is hoped that the new discoveries will allow scientists to connect the dots, furthering our knowledge of the time period in human evolution," he added.


Lucy is Ethiopia's world-acclaimed archaeological find. The discovery of the almost complete hominid skeleton, estimated to be at least 3.2 million years old, in 1974 was a landmark in the search for the origins of humanity.


Yohannes said the new find was made approximately 37 miles north of the site where Lucy was discovered in the eastern region of Afar.


The excavated specimens included parts of one individual's skeleton, complete with ribs, vertebrae and pelvis, he said. Animal remains were also uncovered.


Twenty years after Lucy was unearthed, archaeologists dug up the remains of a chimpanzee-sized ape, estimated at 4.4 million years old, in the same Afar region.


© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.



World's oldest biped skeleton unearthed

15:13 07 March 2005

NewScientist.com news service

Katharine Davis

The fossilised skeleton of a four million-year-old human ancestor able to walk on two legs could provide clues as to how humans' upright walk evolved. The remains, found in north-east Ethiopia, are the oldest yet discovered of an upright hominid, scientists told a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Saturday.


Several fossils from one individual have been discovered at the site, including parts of the ribs, vertebrae, pelvis, shoulder blade and thighbone. But it is the ankle joint that is most interesting, showing that it walked on two legs.


"This skeleton helps us to understand what happened in the joints, how walking upright occurred - what we never had before," says Bruce Latimer of the Natural History Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, who made the discovery together with Yohannes Haile Selassie of the National Museum in Addis Ababa.


Modern ankles

The discovery was made about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from where the fossilised remains of a hominid called Lucy were found in 1974. At about three million years old and with modern ankles, Lucy was the oldest example of a hominid able to walk upright discovered for many years. These newly discovered fossils are much older, and so may reveal more of the evolution process.


A study of a six million-year-old hominid thighbone in 2004 revealed walking habits closer to humans than chimpanzees, but scientists hope the ankle bone of the new find could reveal exactly how the as yet unclassified creature walked. "Normally, you find one bone or two from an individual and you are happy. Now we have found parts of a skeleton, this is very rare," adds Latimer.


Despite being older than Lucy, the skeleton is also bigger, with longer legs, which has surprised the scientists and remains unexplained. But they hope and expect that further work will reveal more of how humans evolved. "This is the world's oldest biped," says Latimer. "It will revolutionise the way we see human evolution."



Were cavemen painting for their gods?

(Filed: 23/02/2005)


The meaning of Ice Age art has been endlessly debated, but evidence is increasing that some was religiously motivated, says Paul Bahn


At least 70,000 years ago, our ancestors began to adorn their bodies with beads, pendants and perhaps tattoos; by 35,000 years ago, they had begun to paint and engrave animals, people and abstract motifs on cave walls, like those in Lascaux, France, and Altamira in Spain. They sculpted voluptuous figurines in ivory or stone, such as the Venus of Willendorf.


Underestimating art: 35,000 years ago, our ancestors began painting representations of animals


Ever since Ice Age art began to be discovered a century ago, people have wondered what it meant. How could we understand what these early artists were trying to express? Many theories have been put forward – "art for art's sake", totemism, hunting magic and so on.


But all fell by the wayside as evidence accumulated that these theories were at best incomplete and usually untenable.


Much nonsense has been published about "shamans", hallucinations and the like, but these fantasies tell us a great deal about the theorists and nothing about the Ice Age artists. Indeed, it denies them any kind of creativity, and relegates artistic production to the recording of images seen in "altered states of consciousness".


I believe that recent efforts have uncovered compelling evidence that motivation for some Ice Age art – though by no means all – was religious. There is hard evidence which gives us a glimpse of what they were striving to accomplish.


One of the most important and useful factors inherent in the study of rock or cave art is that its location has not changed – it is still where the artist chose to put it and the viewer is occupying the same space that the artist occupied. This can give us a great deal of information that is far more solid and dependable than speculations about meaning.


For example, the decorated gallery of Fronsac in the Dordogne is only 35cm wide, while the "antelopes" of Pech Merle – fantastic, imaginary creatures – are drawn in a tiny chamber into which only one or two people can squeeze.


One must always bear in mind the role played in any culture by features of the landscape or of a site which were associated with particular myths or legends or events, traditional or tribal territories, sacred or holy areas or taboos.


Similarly, in any culture there may be "good" places and "bad" places; and even inside caves there were probably places where such intangible factors played an important role in the decoration of the walls.


I experienced this in the Eighties, when I accompanied the American writer John Pfeiffer to the French cave of Font de Gaume (Dordogne) one evening, with small candles for light. Both of us independently discovered that we had both felt at ease and happy inside the profusely decorated "bison sanctuary" at the end of the main corridor. But we both felt distinctly ill at ease in a different, undecorated part of the cave, and were glad to leave.


What was remarkable was that the curator of the cave had had the same feelings in those same parts of the cave.


The natural architecture of caves played a role in the way in which they were decorated. In many it seems obvious that the artists studied the layout of chambers, passages and major concretions – indeed, in some cases they may have placed markers at significant spots.


Another factor which may have played a significant role in the choice of location is acoustics. Today, we tend to enter these caves speaking in hushed tones, but this may be wrong – the original artists or users of the caves may well have been singing, chanting or praying loudly while the images were being made or used.


We will never know, but studies of acoustics in some Ice Age-decorated caves have detected a correlation between the locations of decoration and those places where men's voices can best be heard. Often, the areas with the best decoration have the best acoustics, while undecorated areas are totally flat in terms of sound quality.


In view of the obvious intelligence of the artists, it is extremely likely that, just as they took full advantage of the morphology of the cave and of particular rock shapes, so they would also have used any acoustic peculiarities.


Anyone who has heard stalactites being played inside a deep, dark cave – they produce a soft marimba-like sound – will know how amazing the experience can be.


One of the characteristics of Ice Age cave art is the exploitation of undulations in walls: this has been apparent since the discovery in 1879 of the Altamira bison drawn on protruding ceiling bosses. To gain a better idea of how these shapes would have appeared to Ice Age visitors, it is necessary to replicate the sources of light they would have used.


The same applies to studies of the visibility, or lack of it, of different figures, and this is the aspect which, I believe, can take us the farthest into the minds and motivations of the artists.


Much cave art appears to us to be "public", or at least on open display (although we have no idea which members of a group were allowed to see it, nor whether large numbers of people ever gathered in big cave chambers or around open-air figures). In certain cases, Ice Age people deliberately made it easier for the imagery to be seen by breaking stalagmites and stalactites.


More intriguing are the numerous cases where the imagery was purposely hidden, up high chimneys, under low overhangs or in niches. Such imagery was not made to be seen by other Ice Age people, but was intended to be seen by – or was offered to – something else, perhaps a deity, spirit or ancestor. In other words, some cave art (but not necessarily all of it) was clearly religious in some way and produced out of strongly held motivations.


The ultimate example of this phenomenon has been found in the cave of Pergouset, in the Lot region of France, where the engraved art begins only after a long crawl, at full stretch, down a narrow, low, wet and unpleasant passage.


One of the engraved figures, a horse head, was made at arm's length inside a fissure into which the artist could not possibly have inserted his or her head: even the artist never saw this figure; it was not meant to be seen by human eyes.


Inaccessibility seems to be the crucial factor in most of the "private" art. Indeed, the overcoming of obstacles, the discomforts and dangers, seemed to have been more important than the actual images.


From what we know of the Maya of Central America, one of the few other ancient cultures which habitually decorated deep caves, it seems the art was not made to last; its survival was irrelevant. The placing of figures in the most inaccessible location possible was linked to remoteness from the normal everyday world – and it is this remoteness which made the images as sacred as possible.


This could certainly be true at Le Tuc d'Audoubert in the French Pyrenees, where the famous clay bison were made, at the far end of the cave, after a tortuous and arduous journey of 900m – the farthest point that could be reached. The images were left there in the darkness, and almost certainly nobody returned to see them until their discovery in the early 20th century.


Paul Bahn, independent archaeologist, will be speaking on Art and Religion in the Ice Age at Art and Mind's forthcoming festival: Religion, Art and the Brain, March 10-13 at the Theatre Royal, Winchester Tickets: £8 or £10 per session or £30 day ticket. Theatre Royal Box Office: tel: 01962 840440 Further information: www.artandmind.org



How prehistoric farmers saved us from new Ice Age

Robin McKie, science editor, Sunday March 6, 2005, The Observer


Ancient man saved the world from a new Ice Age. That is the startling conclusion of climate researchers who say man-made global warming is not a modern phenomenon and has been going on for thousands of years.

Prehistoric farmers who slashed down trees and laid out the first rice paddies and wheatfields triggered major alterations to levels of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, they say.


As a result, global temperatures - which were slowly falling around 8,000 years ago - began to rise. 'Current temperatures would be well on the way toward typical glacial temperatures, had it not been for the greenhouse gas contributions from early farming practices,' says Professor William Ruddiman of Virginia University.


The theory, based on studies of carbon dioxide and methane samples taken from Antarctic ice cores, is highly controversial - a point acknowledged by Ruddiman. 'Global warming sceptics could cite my work as evidence that human-generated greenhouse gases played a beneficial role for several thousand years by keeping the Earth's climate more hospitable than it would otherwise have been,' he states in the current issue of Scientific American.


'However, others might counter that, if so few humans with relatively primitive technologies were able to alter the course of climate so significantly, then we have reason to be concerned about the current rise of greenhouse gases to unparalleled concentrations at unprecedented rates.'


Elaborating on his theory, Ruddiman said: 'Rice paddies flooded by irrigation generate methane for the same reason that natural wetlands do - vegetation decomposes in the stagnant water. Methane is also released as farmers burn grasslands,' Ruddiman points out.


Similarly, the cutting down of forests had a major effect. 'Whether the fallen trees were burnt or left to rot, their carbon would soon have been oxidised and ended up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.'


Computer models of the climate made by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggest this rise in carbon dioxide and methane would have had a profound effect on Earth: without man's intervention, our planet would be 2C cooler than it is now, and spreading ice caps and glaciers would affect much of the world.


The idea that ancient farming may have had an impact on Earth's climate was given a cautious welcome by Professor Paul Valdes, an expert on ancient climate change based at Bristol University.


'This is a very interesting idea,' he told The Observer. 'However, there are other good alternative explanations to explain the fluctuations that we see in temperature and greenhouse gas levels at this time. For example, other gases interact with methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in levels of these could account for these increases in greenhouse gases.'



Australian Team Find Burial of Tutor to Pharaoh

Thu Mar 3, 2005 10:26 AM ET


CAIRO (Reuters) - Australian archaeologists have discovered a tomb thought to belong to the tutor of the Pharaoh Pepi I, who ruled Egypt more than 4,200 years ago, the Egyptian government's chief archaeologist said on Thursday.

The archaeologists found the tomb last month alongside one containing three coffins from a much later period, Zahi Hawas, chairman of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, told Reuters.


"This discovery is very important because the owner of the tomb was a tutor and we believe that he was the tutor of King Pepi I," he said.


It lies to the north of the pyramid of Teti, the father of Pepi I, in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, about 12 miles south of Cairo. Pepi I ruled from about 2332 to 2282 BC.


"As indicated by the inscriptions in his tomb, the tutor's name is Mery and the two statues carved on the false door are of him and his wife," Hawas added.


Hawas said Mery was also believed to be the overseer of the four sacred boats that were buried beside the nearby pyramid, and the discovery of the tomb might help throw light on the mysterious relationship between the boats and the pyramid.


© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.




Archaeology: 2,500 years old, and as fresh as the day she was buried

Anne Penketh, 03 March 2005

Hidden in a sprawling tomb behind a pair of ancient statues in the capital of ancient Egypt, a team of Australian archaeologists has found one of the best-preserved mummies, reports


The green eyes stare out unblinkingly from the beaded mask. The woman's dark eyebrows and terracotta face look as fresh as they ever did.


Yet the figure covered in turquoise beads and swaddled in black linen, nestling in a wooden sarcophagus, is believed to be 2,500 years old.


Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, yesterday proudly unveiled what he described as probably one of the best-preserved mummies ever.


He stood among the treasures that were uncovered by accident by an Australian team of archaeologists in Saqqara, the burial site of Memphis, once the capital of ancient Egypt.


The Australians, who were exploring a tomb dating back 4,200 years, pushed aside a pair of ancient statues last week and found a door which led them to the tomb containing three cedar coffins, each containing a mummy. Inside one was the magnificently preserved beaded woman. Wooden boxes next to the coffins contained vital organs.


"The chest of the mummy is covered with beads. Most of the mummies of this period - about 500BC - the beads are completely gone, but this mummy has them all," Dr Hawass told journalists at the site.


For many people, the tourist trail to Egypt means taking a trip to the pyramids and the sphinx at Giza, perilously close to the encroaching Cairo suburbs, before embarking on a slow cruise down the Nile to Luxor, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings.


But further off the beaten track lies Saqqarah, the vast necropolis spread out in the desert sands 30 miles south of Cairo. Its most commanding pyramid is the world's oldest major stone structure, built around 2630BC for King Djoser. But its tombs were constructed over thousands of years, and many of its secrets have still to be discovered.


Excavations at Saqqara have been going on for the past two centuries. In 2001, Dutch archaeologists found a new tomb. In 2002, an Egyptian mission made a major discovery of seven mud-brick tombs of high-ranking officials who lived in the New Kingdom (1550-1069BC). Naguib Kanawati, the head of the Australian team from Sydney's Macquarie University, which made the astonishing discovery of the mummies from the 26th Dynasty (664-525BC), said their site had been under excavation for 10 years. The door was hidden behind statues of a man believed to have been Meri, the tutor of King Pepi II who was the last ruler in Egypt's 6th Dynasty, and the tutor's wife.


After Pepi II's rule, the site was covered by 50 feet of sand, until it was used again as a cemetery 2,600 years later. "By that time the art of mummification was perfected to the extreme," Professor Kanawati said.


The identity of the mummies has not yet been ascertained, and they are to undergo ultrasound and X-ray testing, which may reveal their age, signs of disease and the possible cause of death. But there is speculation that the mummies may be teachers.


"These were not particularly wealthy people. They are not commoners ... They are middle-class people, but not royalty," Professor Kanawati said.


All three bodies were extremely well preserved. Two coffins contained male mummies, wrapped in dark linen bandages and painted or covered in beads from their head to their knees. The third coffin, which was in worse condition than the other two, contained the woman.


"We cannot and we don't want to unwrap them because that would start the deterioration," Professor Kanawati stressed. The mummies will be handed over to the Egyptian authorities once Australian researchers have fully studied the bodies. Inscriptions on the body-shaped coffins will also be studied.


"I believe this discovery can enrich us about two important periods in our history, the Old Kingdom, which dates back to 4,200 years, and the 26th Dynasty, that was 2,500 years ago," Dr Hawass said.



Ancient sky map or fake? German experts row over star disc

Luke Harding in Berlin, Tuesday March 1, 2005, The Guardian


One of Germany's most acclaimed archaeological finds - a 3,600-year-old disc depicting the stars and the planets - is at the centre of a dispute following claims that it is a modern forgery.

According to Germany's museum establishment, the Sky Disc of Nebra is the oldest depiction of the heavens discovered and offers an insight into the Bronze Age mind.


But the authenticity of the disc has been challenged by one of the country's leading archaeologists, Peter Schauer of Regensburg University. He told a court in Halle that the artefact was nothing more than an amateurish forgery.


Prof Schauer said that the ancient-looking green patina on the artefact was not old at all, and had probably been artificially created in a workshop using acid, urine and a blowtorch.


The indentations on the disc's side, meanwhile, were also not made by a Bronze Age tool but were done by machine, he said.


"My colleagues don't want to believe it. But there is little doubt that the disc is a fake," he told the Guardian yesterday. "It looks very nice. It has the sky and the stars. You can even see the Pleiades. But I'm afraid it's a piece of fantasy."


The disc was allegedly found in 1999 by two amateur metal detectors. They claimed that they discovered it in a muddy field close to a prehistoric hill fort near the east German town of Nebra, with two ancient swords and jewellery. The amateur archaeol ogists then attempted to sell the disc to various German museums for 1m marks. Police in the Swiss city of Basel eventually arrested the pair and they were convicted of handling stolen goods. They are appealing against the sentence, arguing that if the disk is a fake they should not have been convicted in the first place.


Last week a judge in Halle called Prof Schauer as an ex pert witness after he wrote a letter to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper last November saying that the disc was a fake.


Other experts, though, have poured scorn on the professor's testimony. "An examination of the patina confirms its ancient origins _ I have no doubt that it does indeed come from the Bronze Age," another professor, Josef Riederer, told the court. Tests revealed that the disc had come from the Nebra site, yet another expert, Gregor Borg, claimed.


The case is embarrassing Germany's curatorial establishment, which had hailed the disc as the most sensational archaeological discovery of the last century. The disc, with its gold appliqués, was the oldest concrete representation of the cosmos to date and a key find not only for archaeology but also for astronomy and the history of religion, experts claimed.


It probably belonged to an early Bronze Age prince, they added, who would have exchanged goods across Europe. Thousands of Germans have flocked to an exhibition in Halle to see the disc.


Yesterday, however, Prof Schauer said the disc could have been manufactured by shamans from Siberia, and was probably no more than "two or three hundred years old". Asked whether he might be wrong, he replied: "I spent 19 years examining finds from across the ancient and Roman world. I know what I'm talking about."


The judge is likely to rule on the case next week.



Experts' joy over Iron Age relics

Mar 2 2005, By Andrew Heath


An important archaeological discovery has led experts to believe Ryton-on-Dunsmore was home to a high-ranking Iron Age family more than 2,000 years ago.


Scientists have found the first-ever complete example of an Iron Age kiln, which they believe a prehistoric family may have used to turn smelt iron into tools or jewellery.


The clay oven was unearthed on the site of a £3 million safety improvement scheme on the A45, near the junction with the A445.


Before, fragments of kilns had been dug up elsewhere in Britain, but the Ryton discovery means scientists will be able to work out exactly what they were used for.


Stuart Palmer, who directed the project on behalf of Warwickshire Museum Archaeology Group, believes the family were important because they used the oven to work metal.


He said: "At the time people who dealt with metal work were almost considered to be like magicians because the ability to turn essentially rocks into something useful was unbelievable to them.


"But until now, no-one has known what the oven was used for, so this is a significant find because we have the complete structure and can work out what they did with it."


The kiln, which had been deliberately buried, stood around a metre high and half a metre wide and Mr Palmer estimates it would have weighed around 10 stones.


Alongside the kiln was an iron brooch, the earliest of its type ever found in Warwickshire as well as fragments of late Stone Age and Bronze Age pottery and flint tools.


Excavations also revealed remains of roundhouses and an unusual crescent-shaped ditch, which experts believe may have been an unusual form of shrine.


Although the latest discovery has made has made the Ryton site particularly significant, it is one of a string of similar sites in Warwickshire.


Others exist close to the police training centre in Ryton, in Bubbenhall, and archae-ologists have described a "massive complex" near Church Lawford.


At the time the kiln was made, apart from a few large population centres in the south, the UK was largely agricultural with small groups living by farming the land.


Results of tests on the kiln will take months to complete and may not even be known for years.



Highways Agency press release, 1st March 2005

Rare Prehistoric Discoveries Unearthed At Ryton-On-Dunsmore In Warwickshire

Archaeological excavation on behalf of the Highways Agency ahead of a £3m road scheme has revealed historic treasures never before found in Warwickshire, indicating that a high-ranking Iron Age family could have inhabited a settlement at Ryton-on-Dunsmore over 2000 years ago.


Earlier fragments of Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery and flint tools on the same site date from as far back as 3000 B.C. and suggest the site held special significance almost 2500 years before the Iron Age began.


As well as Iron Age pottery and remains of roundhouses consistent with previous discoveries at other Warwickshire sites, several unusual finds make it a site of particular historic interest


The most exceptional find of the dig was evidence of a clay structure used in some sort of Iron Age kiln. This 'kiln furniture', which can be dated by an iron brooch that was found with it, is likely to be among the earliest found in the UK. These finds date from around 200 B.C., and the brooch is the first of its kind to be discovered in Warwickshire.


The excavations also revealed an unusual C-shaped ditch with an eastern entrance, which is likely to have been of ceremonial or religious significance - perhaps an unusual form of shrine.


Stuart Palmer, who directed the project on behalf of Warwickshire Museum Archaeology Projects Group, said:


"The fact that several of these Iron Age finds at Ryton-on-Dunsmore are atypical in this area makes it a distinct possibility that this site was the residence of people of an unusual rank, perhaps a local leader or other high status family.


"We can get an idea of the community's economy from a group of large, deep pits which were probably used to store cereal grain. We can also see that the pits ended their useful life as repositories for rubbish after episodes of feasting."


Other finds included a range of quern stones used for grinding cereal seeds into flour. Several different types of these querns were found, including a beehive type, which has never before been seen in Warwickshire.


Rob Sutton of Atkins Heritage, archaeological advisors to the Highways Agency, said:


"The next stage will be the completion of the post-excavation analysis. Environmental samples taken from the excavated features will be examined to recover evidence of local land use and farming techniques.


"Particular attention will be given to the more unusual finds like the 'kiln furniture' in order to attempt to understand how it was used.


"Carbon dating of recovered material, like charred matter adhering to the pottery or charred plant remains, will tell us more about the sequence of events during the prehistoric occupation of this site."


Andrew Butterfield, Assistant Route Manager for the Highways Agency, said:


"We are delighted to have funded such a successful archaeological excavation in the lead up to this £3m safety improvement scheme on the A45 in Warwickshire.


"As soon as the importance of this site became clear, we made additional resources and time available to complete the excavations. Whenever we find archaeological remains on road projects, we work closely with archaeologists to ensure those are preserved for the community.


"Now we await the results of the analysis and look forward to learning more about the way prehistoric communities that occupied this part of the Midlands lived their lives."


Notes to Editors

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. It manages, maintains and improves the network of trunk roads and motorways in England on behalf of the Secretary of State. It works closely with other transport operators and with local authorities to integrate the trunk road network with the rest of England's roads and other forms of travel.


2. Work on the A45 road scheme at Ryton-on-Dunsmore started on January 10 2005.


3. Information about roadworks throughout the region is available from the Highways Agency information line on 08457 50 40 30 or from the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk.


4. Atkins ( www.atkinsglobal.com) plans, designs and enables the delivery of complex infrastructure and buildings for clients in the public and private sectors across the world. Atkins is the largest multi-disciplinary consultancy in Europe; the largest engineering consultancy in the UK; and the seventh largest design firm in the world. Atkins Heritage provides the focus for the Company's work in the heritage sector. It undertakes conservation and archaeological consultancy in respect of the management of historic environment and places of cultural and heritage significance.


5. Warwickshire Museum Field Archaeology Projects Group undertakes all kinds of archaeological research in Warwickshire and neighbouring counties for a mixture of public sector and private clients.


Issued on behalf of the Highways Agency by Hannah Harris of GNN West Midlands.


For enquiries from the media, journalists and researchers only, the Highways Agency's press officers can be contacted on 0121 352 5520.


Media enquiries out of hours can be made to 0207 081 7443. All other enquiries about the Highways Agency, its role and responsibilities, should be made through the Highways Agency Information Line on 08457 50 40 30.



Dig uncovers market cross remains 


In 1732 the cross was pulled down and the stone sold for £125

Archaeologists excavating Norwich market before refurbishment work begins have uncovered the foundations of the medieval Market Cross.

An original cross was built in 1411 and stood 60ft tall, dominating the market.


The last structure stood opposite what is now Davey Place and featured a chapel on top of a plinth 30ft wide.


David Adams site manager of the Norwich Market Archaeology Project said: "It is an octagonal building demolished in the 1730s but it is fantastic to see it."


The cross was on the site for 200 years and Mr Adams said "it was the beating heart of the market".


Archeologists were concerned that the foundations of the cross could have been destroyed by landscaping work over the centuries.


The Cross was expensive to maintain and over the years the citizens were taxed to raise funds for its repair.


In 1732 it was pulled down, the stone sold for £125 and the site levelled.


Norwich market, established between 1071 and 1074, is one of the oldest and largest in England.


The archaeologists have been given about six weeks to record any features before any deposits are destroyed.


Keyhole excavations in Autumn 2004 demonstrated that surfaces and waste pits dating to the 15th and 16th Centuries lie close to the present surface. 

Remains of the Cross could have been destroyed by landscaping.


County archaeologist Brian Ayers said: "Norwich Market Place is of European significance.


"It was the commercial centre of the largest city in medieval England with trading links from Scandinavia to Spain.


"Traders have been using this space for nearly 1000 years and it will be marvellous to compare modern practice to that of the Middle Ages."



Eyebrow razed at Nelson discovery 


Lord Nelson tried to conceal his missing eyebrow

A waxwork model of Lord Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero, has undergone cosmetic surgery to remove half of his right eyebrow.

The alterations were made at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth to make the figure historically accurate.


Lord Nelson, killed during the Battle of Trafalgar 200 years ago, lost his right arm and sight in one eye.


But historian Dr Ann-Mary Hills has discovered that a French cannonball also claimed part of his eyebrow.


The waxwork model was made in 1998 and has been amended in time for this summer's bicentennial commemorations of the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson's death.


Museum curator of artefacts Richard Noyce said: "As if losing his right arm and the sight in one eye was not bad enough.


"Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero, who was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar 200 years ago, also lost half of one of his eyebrows and had an ugly scar on his forehead that he tried to conceal.


"The public always want to know what Nelson looked like - was he really very short, for instance?


"We thought the figure was pretty accurate then, but recent research has shown that we also needed to remove half of his right eyebrow to get it exactly right."


Dr Hills, who lectures about Nelson and is writing a book on his health, said many later portraits showed him with the right-side of his face turned away or covered by his hair.


She believes this was to hide both the scarred eyebrow and another scar above his right eye.


Dr Hills said the eyebrow injury, which destroyed the hair-bearing tissue of the outer part of the brow, was caused at the siege of Calvi on July 12, 1794, when Nelson lost the sight in his right eye.


A French cannonball fired by the defenders of the Corsican city hit sandbags below Nelson sending pebbles into his eye and eyebrow, she added.


Dr Hills said: "Nelson described his eye as being very badly cut down but what I think he meant was his eyebrow because, to all intents and purposes, his eye itself seemed normal.


"He never lost the eyeball and he would blink and turn his eye normally."


Dr Hills said she was pleased the museum had altered the model to fit in with her interpretation of Nelson's injury.