Extinct cave bears get their DNA sequenced

Thu Jun 2, 2005 7:13 PM BST


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers have sequenced the DNA of two extinct cave bears and say their method is accurate enough to try doing it on extinct humans such as Neanderthals, according to a report published on Thursday.


The cave bears are the first extinct animals to have their genes sequenced, and the findings can be used to determine the precise relationship between the 40,000-year-old bears and living species.


But the main message is that the technique should be useful in examining Neanderthal DNA, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.


"We picked cave bear as an initial test case ancient DNA target because the samples we used in the study are roughly the same age as Neanderthals," said Eddy Rubin of the U.S. Department of Energy, where some of the work was done.


"Our real interest is in hominids which include humans and the extinct Neanderthal -- the only other hominid species that we have to compare with humans. Our nearest living relative is the chimp and that's five million years of divergence," Rubin added in a statement.


The researchers include Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who first extracted and analyzed DNA from Neanderthal bones in 1997.


Paabo's team worked with mitochondrial DNA, which is found in the body of the cell and passed down virtually intact from mothers to their children.


Genetics experts need nuclear DNA -- the kind that is mixed together and passed along from both parents -- to get a real idea of a creature's genetic heritage.


To do this, the international team of researchers turned to cave bear remains from Austria.


"We extracted DNA from a cave bear tooth recovered from Ochsenhalt Cave, Austria and a cave bear bone from Gamssulzen Cave, Austria, dated at 42,290 and 44,160 years before present respectively," they wrote in their report.


They compared the sequences with DNA from dogs, modern bears and other animals, and filtered out obvious contamination from microbes and fungi.


"When people hear about our success, they immediately think about how this strategy could work for dinosaurs," Rubin said.


Dinosaur DNA plays a fictional role in Michael


Crichton's "Jurassic Park," a novel made into a film in which dinosaurs are resurrected using DNA taken from


amber-preserved insects and cloning technology.


While experts have found some soft tissue in 70-million-year-old dinosaur fossils, it is not at all clear whether any measurable DNA remains.


Rubin said it may also be possible to extract DNA from the remains found in Indonesia of the Flores Man, a small Homo erectus nicknamed "the hobbit" because of its tiny stature. These remains have been dated to just 18,000 years ago.



Hunters Cleared in Aussie Megafauna Extinctions

By Anna Salleh, ABC Science Online


May 31, 2005— Humans and ancient giant marsupials coexisted for at least 15,000 years, according to new findings that re-ignite the debate over how and when Australia's megafauna became extinct.


Archaeologist Judith Field, of the University of Sydney, says the team's findings put to rest one high-profile theory, that humans arrived in Australia and wiped out the megafauna during a relatively brief 1000-year "blitzkrieg."


"In some places people may well have had a role, but in other places they had no role at all," she says.


Field draws her conclusions, reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, from an ancient lake bed at Cuddie Springs, in New South Wales, where she has been working for 14 years.


Field and team found evidence of human occupation including stone tools, charcoal, ochre and modified bone, dating from 36,000 years ago.


These were alongside remains of megafauna, including diprotodon (a giant wombat-like creature), protemnodon (a giant wallaby) and Genyornis newtoni (a giant flightless bird), surviving until 30,000 years ago.


Field said the 6,000-year overlap tells us people and megafauna coexisted there over an extended period. And given a conservative estimate of human arrival in Australia at 45,000 years ago, this means the two coexisted for at least 15,000 years.


She says this is incompatible with the blitzkrieg model, proposed by well known palaeontologist Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum.


"Having a long overlap of humans and megafauna refutes the blitzkrieg argument of Tim Flannery," she says.


Field says her latest findings also challenge "simplistic" theories that climate change was to blame for the extinction, or that humans slowly killed off the megafauna over 10,000 years by hunting and burning their habitat.


She believes megafauna may have died out at different times across Australia, depending on a complex interaction of factors.


A Controversial Site


Cuddie Springs was excluded by scientists who in 2001 calculated the broadly accepted date of megafaunal extinction Australia-wide as being 46,500 years ago.


Those scientists, including Flannery and dating expert Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong, argued that sediments at the site had been disturbed, making it difficult to use the dates of surrounding sediments to date the bones.


Field and team say they have now confirmed that the bones were not moved after death by measuring rare earth elements (REE) contained in them.


REEs are not found in bones during life, but are relatively common in soils. After an animal dies, they get taken up into the bone and leave a permanent fingerprint or memory of the original burial location, said Field.


But Roberts remains unconvinced.


He says the REE technique is generally used for much older deposits and may not be reliable for deposits as relatively young as Cuddie Springs.


Was Climate Change Responsible?


More evidence that points away from human intervention in the extinction of the megafauna comes from Queensland University of Technology research, published Monday, supporting the idea that climate change was responsible.


Research in the journal Memoirs of the Queensland Museum led by researcher Gilbert Price studied a 30-feet deep section of creek bed in the Darling Downs region in the state's southeast.


The researchers found 44 species ranging from land snails, frogs, lizards and small mammals to giant wombats and kangaroos.


The researchers say this suggests the extinction of Darling Downs megafauna was caused by a massive shift in climate rather than by the arrival of humans who over-hunted animals or destroyed habitats by burning the landscape.



Finely decorated slabs found in a Scottish cairn

5 June 2005


Excavations by Headland Archaeology have provided an opportunity to fully excavate the remains of a Bronze Age funerary cairn near Inverness. This has produced some unusual and unexpected evidence of megalithic rock art.

     The sub-circular cairn located in Balblair Quarry, near Beauly (Highlands, Scotland), was approximately 20 metres in diameter and survived to a maximum height of 1 metre. Although the body of the cairn had been substantially robbed in the past, a central cist was still present. Unfortunately the cist had also been robbed, although a few rim sherds of food vessel were recovered. The lack of grave goods was compensated for by the discovery of decoration on three of the internal faces of the sandstone slabs that formed the cist.

     In two instances the decoration consisted of simple shallow, pecked cup marks but one slab was far more intricately decorated. On this slab there is a perforation – worked from both faces – a cup mark and a probable third cup surviving at one edge of what was once a presumably larger stone, all seemingly pecked. Most intriguing is a deeply scored but asymmetrical linear decoration for which there are no regional parallels. A similar, albeit inverted incised design can be seen running either away from the perforation, and there is clear evidence of smaller cup marks and lighter pecking around it. This practice of the preliminary tracing of designs can be seen in examples of Irish and Orcadian passage tombs although in this instance further enhancement was not carried out.

     The deeper and more prominent incised linear design appears to have been executed with a sharp instrument and this decoration may be later than the deep cup marks. Indeed, in two instances pecking is superimposed over some of the curvilinear design suggesting re-use if not more extensive reworking of an existing stone. Both the perforations and the weathering on both sides of the two decorated side slabs of the cist suggest that both stones were once freestanding or open to the elements; their subsequent incorporation into the cist has almost certainly preserved the apparent freshness of the decoration in any case.

     Close by are the remains of a chambered cairn that incorporates similar sandstone slabs that have been imported onto the site from outcropping sources in the near vicinity and it is possible that the slabs within the cist could have come from that locality and been re-used. The perforations and large cups are perhaps of later Neolithic date; smaller motifs, shallow cupmarks for example, are not uncommon in Bronze Age cists.

     Headland Archaeology has yet to identify any direct parallels for the incised curvilinear design from Scotland or indeed with any other recorded megalithic art in the British Isles albeit there is a passing similarity to designs on the exterior of the main tomb at Knowth in Ireland. Fragments of food vessel type pottery recovered from the cist.


Source: Headland Archaeology (5 May 2005)



First published on Friday 03 June 2005:

Grime in Egyptian jar is the remains of long-dead priest

by Mark Foster


IT has kept its secret for thousands of years but, in the end, ancient rituals proved no match for modern science.


For the past 36 years, an Egyptian jar has stood in the collection of a Harrogate museum and, for countless years before that, lay in the deserts of the Middle East. But tests have proved that the residue inside is not just the grime of centuries, but is all that is left of a long-dead priest.


Experts at York University, led by Dr Stephen Buckley, have established the residue is cholesterol from human remains. The 26cm-high canopic jar was donated to the Royal Pump Room Museum, in Harrogate, in 1969 by local farmer Benjamin Kent. It is not known where it was excavated from. Canopic jars were used during the mummification process by the ancient Egyptians between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago to store the internal organs of those being preserved.


The organs were placed in four separate jars, which were supposed to protect them.


There were containers for the lungs, the stomach, the liver and the intestines.


And although Egyptologists will never know for sure whose remains they have rediscovered, the jar itself may give a clue -as the hieroglyphs mention a priest called Djediufankh.


The testing also confirmed the Egyptians had sterilised the body and entrails using alcohol as an antiseptic.


And for the first time, science has been able to show that the alcohol used was date palm wine, confirming descriptions given by classical authors such as the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.


It was also revealed that the organs stored inside the jar had been treated with an aromatic spice, probably scented cinnamon or cassia imported from South-East Asia.


Diane Taylor, from the museum, said: "This is hugely exciting. This is thousands of years old and we are still discovering things about it."


The jar is on display in the Discover Ancient Egypt exhibition, which continues until September 4.




Marseille, 3 June 2005 (18:02 UTC+2) 


A large archaeological site, dating back to the ancient Greek Marseille founded 2,600 years ago, was brought to light by archaeological excavations. The site was discovered in the Old Port at the center of Marseille, France, reports the AFP.


According to archaeologists, the site is exceptional due to the ancient ruins found there, its size (400 square meters) and its layers that go as deep as 3 meters. The oldest of the buildings that were discovered (575-550 BC) were probably residences with stone foundations and brick walls.


Around 550 BC, a large construction of 120 square meters was erected in the region, most likely a building of worship, and the objects found in the area are pieces of ancient Greek origin pottery.



Updated: Thursday, June 02, 2005

Archaeologists clash with Câmara


An aerial view of a section of Faro’s historic centre, taken following an excavation carried out at Horta da Misericórdia, situated just metres away from the site for the proposed luxury hotel. This particular dig uncovered numerous Roman and Islamic structures and objects as well as some from the 14th, 16th and 19th centuries. Photo: T.Júdice Gamito


A RECENT archaeological dig, carried out in a protected area within Faro’s historic centre, has uncovered more remains dating back to the Iron Age and items from Islamic and Roman civilisations. Good news for archaeologists and history enthusiasts, but perhaps not for Faro Câmara, which has been hoping to have a luxury hotel built on the site. The recent exploration took place in earth beneath the Magistério Primário, an old school establishment that lies between the Sé, an Arab mosque and a Roman court – an area protected by the Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico (IPPAR), the Portuguese institute for patrimonial architecture. Mónica Saraiva, a student from Algarve University in Faro who took part in the excavation in February, has told Lusa news agency that Islamic and Roman remains were found: “We saw coins, ceramic plates, tiles, small fragments from pots, needles and nails.” Tânia Mota, an Algarve University student who took part in another recent excavation, told the news agency that a Roman cup and a button made of bone were also found at the site.


• José Vitorino, Faro Câmara President


What is Faro Câmara’s reasoning for the project?


As a protected area, proposing a hotel to be built there could, for many people, seem just a little surprising, although it has to be said that Faro does lack decent hotels. In comments made to the press last year, José Vitorino, President of Faro Câmara, said: “It is unbelievable that the city of Faro does not have even one five-star hotel. We want to transform Faro into an important borough for tourism in the Algarve and in Portugal.”


For Vitorino, “Faro is the gateway to millions of tourists and, if the city has a poor image, this can affect the whole of the region,” he said, trying to justify the proposed hotel for the historic centre.




Prominent experts in the archaeological field, however, do not share Vitorino’s preferred choice of location for the new luxury hotel. “The entire walled area contains remains dating back to the Iron Age through to present day,” says Teresa Júdice Gamito, a professor at the Algarve University, who spent a three-year period studying the area, a major project that was concluded five years ago.


“From the dig I oversaw at Horta da Misericódia, the structures were mainly from Roman times, the Islamic period and from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The remains reveal the everyday life of the population. Lots of materials were collected, mainly ceramics, bone objects, coins, and bronzes and iron objects. Everything has been treated at the Archaeological Laboratory of the University of Algarve,” she said.


For Gamito, the idea of building a hotel on the site is “incomprehensible”. This proposal is “just horrible,” she says. “Faro has suffered many earthquakes, which have meant that the city has been built and re-built over and over again, and, therefore, there are remains from many different civilisations in this area.”


Not enough space for a five-star hotel


The professor was clearly angered by the câmara’s proposal and commented: “There is not even enough space there to build a decent five-star hotel with good facilities on the site. I don’t understand why they won’t leave this area alone and find a location outside, where they can build freely with a lot more space. This way, they could have a really good hotel with pools, bars and conference space.” The professor also warned: “I think the current project is very negative for Faro and its inhabitants.”


Finally, when asked if she thought the hotel was likely to go ahead, she told The Resident: “I cannot guarantee, but I am almost sure that IPPAR will dismiss this proposal.”


Results from archaeological study awaited


Meanwhile, Faro Câmara is reported as commenting: “With regard to the luxury hotel, everything is in place and a favourable report has already been received from the Direcção-Geral do Turismo.”


According to Vasco Santa Clara, a senior figure at Faro Câmara, only the official results of the recent excavation are now being awaited. “If there are no obstacles, we will immediately launch the public tender for the project.”


In January of this year, the President of Faro Câmara told a regional newspaper that the câmara would put together a project for a luxury hotel in the old city, after requesting the opinion of IPPAR, which may or may not authorise the construction to take place.


To date, no judgement has been given, guarantees Pedro Barros, the head of the Instituto Português de Arqueologia (IPA) in the Algarve, emphasising that the council was only authorised “to carry out archaeological work to assess the area”.


By Caroline Cunha



Archaeologists Find Hoard of Celtic Coins

Fri Jun 3,10:43 AM ET 

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Archaeologists have uncovered 17 ancient Celtic coins in a field in the south of the Netherlands, the first hoard of such coins found in the country.


Amsterdam's Free University excavated the site in April and will display the coins, which are made of silver and mixed with copper and gold, in the Limburgs Museum in the city of Venlo on Saturday.


They are estimated to date from 20-50 B.C., shortly after Julius Caesar began the Roman conquest of the region.


Leaders of local Germanic tribes "probably used these coins to reward their followers for loyalty," researchers said.


Similar finds have been made in neighboring Belgium and Germany.


Records of ancient 'Sakimori' soldiers found in Saga

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 at 07:10 JST

SAGA — A wooden writing tablet recovered from an excavation site in Saga Prefecture has been found to contain records of ancient "Sakimori" soldiers who were deployed to the northern Kyushu region in the late 700s to guard coastal areas from foreign invasion, the Saga Prefectural Board of Education said Monday.

The tablet, which was found on the Nakabaru excavation site, bears the inscribed terms "Junin," which means Sakimori soldiers, and "Kainokuni," indicating the soldiers were from what is now called Yamanashi Prefecture near Tokyo, the education board said. The names of five soldiers who were given food supplies are also listed on the back. (Kyodo News)



Cathedral yields up secrets of the past Jun 3 2005

By Carl Butler, Daily Post


MEDIEVAL graves and fragments of tiles were unearthed by archaeologists at a North Wales cathedral.


Outlines of 30 graves, left undisturbed, were discovered during the two-week excavation at St Asaph.


The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust dig, led by Ian Grant, was part of work to level the south transept floor.


Fiona Gale, Denbighshire County Council's archaeologist, had an advisory role during the project.


She said: "The flooring in the south transept is being lowered to a level needed for bedding for the new floor.


"A very worn silver coin has also been discovered.


"The pieces have gone to Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust for cleaning and recording, but they remain within the ownership of the cathedral."


After the mid-16th Century eminent lay people were buried within the cathedral walls as well as monks and people involved in cathedral life.


The work to level the floor gave the trust its first opportunity to excavate at the cathedral.


Although they expected to unearth graves, they did not expect to find so many dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries.


The dig also uncovered fragments of bone, brass dress pins, a silver penny and examples of medieval tiles bearing a simple Celtic design.


Similar tiles were recovered in Denbigh and Rhuddlan suggesting they were manufactured locally.



Glasgow's diet was healthier in 1405



GLASWEGIANS in 1405 had a better diet than the citizens of 2005, eating their "five-a-day" 600 years ahead of its time.


Even their light beer was healthier than sugar-laden fizzy concoctions that are today's favourite, according to new archaeological evidence.


It reveals a diet of porridge and small amounts of pork and fish made medieval mealtime more nutritious than a visit to the chippy, the pizza parlour or the ubiquitous American fast food joints.


And an absence of sugar in the diet meant medieval Glaswegians had better teeth. In addition, they could not smoke, a major cause of diseases that killed 119 out of every 100,000 men in the city last year.


Experts agreed yesterday we could learn from our predecessors' eating habits as revealed by the council's new history and archaeology strategy.


Glasgow is developing a mapped medieval trail from Glasgow Cathedral to the Clyde, the medieval hub of the city.


By analysing cesspit material, archaeologists discovered medieval citizens ate a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, cereals and fish. It is a long way in time and culture from modern Glasgow, where obesity is so commonplace because of a junk food diet of pizza, burgers and fish suppers that the Scottish Executive is considering opening an NHS-funded stomach-stapling clinic in the city.


Professor Stephen Driscoll of Glasgow University's archaeology department, said: "Around 100 bodies examined showed good health and the teeth were worn rather than decayed.


"The diet was healthier than today, with porridge, a little meat, fish, milk, cottage cheese and vegetables and fruits."


At one excavation, in Bell Street, cesspit material revealed large quantities of seeds and fish remains.


Councillor Catherine McMaster, on the working group for the medieval project, said: "It seems they were into 'five-a-day', 600 years before the rest of us. We modern Glaswegians could learn from it.


"We hope to reveal more of the city's rich tapestry of history by the medieval trail, and it is ironic that it is already revealing that they probably ate better then."


The "Glesca diet" is notoriously unhealthy, provoking the joke that whole generations were brought up on "chips and lemonade".


In some areas, 80 per cent of children develop tooth decay by the age of five because of a high consumption of fizzy drinks.


Recent research also showed that 63 per cent of schoolchildren in some areas were "less healthy eaters".


Dr Frankie Phillips, of the British Dietetics Association, said: "There wouldn't have been too many obese people in medieval times.


"We could certainly learn from some aspects of the diet that was uncovered."



University of York archaeologists join forces with metal detector enthusiasts

01 June 2005


Metal detection on historic sites has become so popular that enthusiasts are unearthing more items of archaeological interest than the professionals.


Now archaeologists at the University of York want to harness the enthusiasm of metal detectorists in the cause of academic research.


They are being recruited to help in a three-year project which will culminate in the preparation of an economic and landscape history of England from the 7th to the 10th century.


The 'Viking and Anglo-Saxon Landscape and Economy' (VASLE) project was inspired by the Portable Antiquities Scheme set up by the Government in 1997 for the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public. Since then, tens of thousands of finds have been reported.


Professor Julian Richards, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, obtained financial backing from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to establish the project.


Professor Richards said: "Archaeologists have had great difficulty locating Anglo-Saxon and Viking settlements. Now, much of the material found by metal detectorists comes from the 7th to the early 10th century and it is crucial that we bring these items into the realms of research.


"But only in the last five years have archaeologists been able to start to use the data with any real confidence. What the project is really hoping to address is how we interpret metal detecting sites in order that we can gain a greater understanding of Viking and Anglo-Saxon landscape and economy. It will also give us a fuller picture of the impact of the Vikings on the England in the 9th-11th century.


"We hope it will tell us more about the cultural identity of the people who lived in the Danelaw. There were probably very small numbers of true Vikings though their influence far outweighed their actual numbers."


Professor Richards has a strong record of field research into metal-detected sites such as Cottam in East Yorkshire and he, with colleague Dr John Naylor, will undertake field surveys in collaboration with metal detectorists.


As well as data from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, they will be using materials from the Corpus of Early Medieval Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. This will help them to establish which of the richer metal detected sites in the UK will warrant further study, and field survey.


Professor Richards added: "Once we have identified the richest sites, we will be able to build up a picture of what's been found. Effectively, these sites are a fingerprint of economic activity and they will help us to complete the final part of the project which will be to write an economic and landscape history of England from the 7th to the 10th century."


One of the metal detectorists taking part in the project is Dave Haldenby, of Elloughton, near Beverley, East Yorkshire, who said: "In the past there has been some animosity between metal detectorists and archaeologists but, increasingly, they are working together, as this project illustrates. There's a terrific sense of pride in seeing an excavation which would never have happened without hours of painstaking work in plotting finds." 


Notes for editor

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme for the recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public. It was established by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 1997, to promote the recording of chance finds and broaden public awareness of the importance of such objects for understanding our past. The government initially provided funding to institute pilot schemes for the voluntary recording of archaeological objects in six regions and another five pilot schemes were established in 2002, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim is to expand the Scheme to all parts of England and Wales in due course.


The VASLE project has an advisory committee of academics, members of the portable antiquities scheme and metal detectorists.


Finds by metal detectorists in the last two years have included:

The burial site of six Viking men and women, complete with swords and spears, jewellery, firemaking materials and riding equipment, was discovered near Cumwhitton, Cumbria. Believed to date from the early 10th century, it was unearthed following the discovery of two Viking Age copper brooches by a local metal detectorist. The sandy soil meant that while the bodies had decomposed, their equipment had remained intact providing a unique opportunity to excavate a Viking Age cemetery under 21st-century conditions.


A unique group of late ninth-century weapons and personal items including silver coins and the fragments of two swords was found in Yorkshire in December 2003. The so-called Ainsbrook Hoard is one of the most important Viking discoveries ever made in the British Isles. 



Yellowstone asks for help in graves mystery


GARDINER, Mont. (AP) -- The National Park Service is asking for help in identifying what appear to be a pair of unmarked graves in Yellowstone National Park.


The graves were pointed out several years ago by a retired park staff member concerned by their proximity to construction on the park's new Heritage and Research Center near the park's northern entrance. He told park officials that two people were buried there under a sheet of metal, but provided no further details.


Researchers combed historical and land transfer records but found nothing, and regional American Indian tribes say it's unlikely natives were buried there.


Park archaeologist Elaine Hale said she believes that, if people are interred there, they likely were buried prior to the establishment of a nearby cemetery in 1880, possibly as early as the 1860s, when white people first settled the area.


"We can't say that there is, but we can't say that there isn't" a pair of graves at the site, Hale said.


The piece of earth in question doesn't look like much: dirt, sagebrush, a few prickly pears and some sparse grass. There is an L-shaped line of stones, and a piece of rusty pipe sticking out of the ground.


Steve DeVore, from the Park Service's archaeological headquarters in Nebraska, investigated the site Tuesday with a portable ground-penetrating radar device.


Tests showed the soil density differs from surrounding areas, indicating it has been disturbed at some point. But the site is in a busy area, near an old railroad depot and within eyeshot of fuel tanks, sand piles and other construction material.


"That this site has not been disturbed is pretty amazing," DeVore said.


DeVore said he needs to get back to his laboratory before he can analyze his results and, until then, Hale said she's looking for help from someone who might remember who, if anyone, is in the graves.


Some light could be shed quickly with a pick and a shovel, but the Montana Historic Preservation Office said state burial laws could apply and recommended against such actions until more information is gathered.



Action at last on Bazalgette’s tomb

By Jo Bowring


The crumbling tomb of one of Victorian London's finest engineers looks set to be saved from decay.


Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who designed the main London sewer system in the 1860s, is credited with saving millions of Londoner's lives by protecting them from cholera outbreaks.


Now his mausoleum, tucked away in a corner of St Mary's churchyard in Wimbledon Village, could also be saved.


At the Wimbledon Society's annual general meeting last Thursday night, chairman Martyn Harman said: "We have formed a small group to take matters forward and to raise funds for the project.


"The first activity we will be carrying out will be a structural survey of the tomb at the beginning of June, which has been paid for by existing Bazalgette family members.


"We hope and expect that a substantial amount of the costs, once we know them, will be met by a Heritage Lottery grant.


"We have been assured by English Heritage that the Bazalgette mausoleum is a top candidate for funding."


Last July, the state of the tomb was downgraded on English Heritage's buildings at risk register, which said it was in a worse state than the previous year.


The Portland stone monument had suffered from "invasive vegetative growth" and its railings and gates were badly corroded in places.


Although the plants had by then been removed, English Heritage boosted its priority rating from E to C, meaning it is slowly decaying and no solution has been agreed.


The upkeep of the stone is technically the responsibility of the Bazalgettes.


Sir Joseph, who died in 1891, was chief engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works from 1856 until 1889.


During that time, he was also instrumental in building or redeveloping some of London's best known landmarks, including the Victoria and Albert embank- ments, Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Putney, Battersea, Hammersmith and Tower bridges, the Woolwich Ferry, the Blackwall Tunnel and Leicester Square.


The new buildings at risk register is due to be published at the end of this month.



Archaeologists' intoxicating find 

By David Fuller

BBC News 


The bottles were in good condition, but the liquid inside was not

Archaeologists searching for remains of a city's medieval past have made an intoxicating discovery - a cache of World War II beer.

The hundred-or-so bottles of lager buried beneath Southampton's Guildhall Square were still capable of developing a head when they were opened.


It is thought they had been stored in the cellar of an off-licence which was destroyed in the Blitz.


The routine dig was to study the site before a new arts centre was built.


Pete Cottrell, the dig leader, was hoping to find evidence of a medieval leper hospital known to have been in the area.


He said the bottles were in very good condition, but the liquid inside was not.


"I think you'd be very ill if you drank that, it's absolutely rank."


Some of the bottles have now been handed to the city's museum, while the rest has been reburied.