Excavating, jacketing and lifting sub-fossil specimens from an early Pleistocene site for the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project

In September and October 2004, a small team spent five weeks excavating a new and important Forest Bed site discovered recently in East Anglia. The specimens unearthed represent an unprecedented glimpse into a warm stage about 700,000 years ago that was hitherto unrecognised and not represented in the fossil record.

Fossils of beaver, hippo and European pond tortoise were found alongside those of deer, horse and elephant. The excavation was organised by members of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project, of which Nigel Larkin is proud to be an Associated Member.

Nigel joined the team at this site specifically to give advice on conservation issues and to excavate some of the larger and more problematic vertebrate specimens. This frequently necessitated encapsulating the bones and their surrounding sediment in rigid jackets made of plaster of paris, so that their contents could be prepared and cleaned under laboratory conditions after the excavation was completed.

Many thanks to Phil Rye for the photographs used on this page.

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