办事指南

Walk this way

点击量:   时间:2017-07-13 04:02:08

By Debora MacKenzie THE oldest known footprints made by modern humans will be moved to a museum after all. The prints, thought to have been made by a woman and possibly a child 117 000 years ago, were discovered in 1995 in sandstone on the shore of Langebaan Lagoon in South Africa’s West Coast National Park. Last month, the South African National Parks Board decided to leave the prints in place, despite warnings from the scientist who discovered them that they were rapidly eroding (This Week, 31 January, p 20). Now the board has changed its mind after visitors to the site started to damage them. “We began worrying when we saw a news photograph of someone standing in the prints,” says Janette Deacon of the South African National Monuments Council. “We had very much wanted to leave them in place, because their meaning is destroyed if they are moved.” Museums also have trouble storing and displaying such unwieldy blocks of stone, adds Deacon. “But the twin horrors of human interest and natural erosion will be the kiss of death for them.” Keith Taylor, a stone conservator with Taylor Pearce Restoration in London, who is one of the advisers on the project, warns that the sandstone “is very fragile, and could be very delicate to move. But it should be possible.” The prints will be impregnated with a hardening material and the block cut out with a high-pressure water jet. The prints will be replaced with a cast “that looks as much like the original as possible”,