Tag Archives: armor

Fish-like scale armor found in 2,500-year-old tomb in China

Leather scale armor from the Arms and Armor Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which deemed very similar to the ancient leather scale armor found in China. A – front view with skirt folded inside, B – face up, view from proper right side, C – face down, view from proper right side, with one detached scaled piece which might have been a shoulder flap. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2000. Photo: Department of Arms and Armor, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Inside a 2,500-year-old grave in northwestern China, archaeologists were stunned to find intricate armor made of more than 5,000 overlapping leather scales. The warrior buried with the armor likely fitted the garment as you would an apron, without any assistance from a second person, making it highly battle-ready. This kind of armor design is unique for its time and place, and was likely imported from the Middle East where it is thought to originate.

The unisex armor, unearthed at an archaeological site near the city of Turfan, right at the edge of the Taklamakan Desert, would have provided ample protection against blows, stabs, and arrows. Besides the military artifact, archaeologists found the remains of a man around age 30 when he died, presumed to be the warrior that used to equip the armor, alongside pottery fragments, two horse cheek pieces made from horn and wood, and a sheep skull.

Scale armor offers better protection from blunt attacks than mail and is cheaper to produce, but it is not as flexible and does not offer the same amount of coverage.

Yanghai leather scale armor (IIM127:11): main fragments outside, view of scales. Credit: D.L. Xu, P. Wertmann, M. Yibulayinmu.

Scale armors were worn by warriors of many different cultures and often adorned their horses as well. The material used for the scales could vary wildly, from bronze and iron to pangolin scales and paper. Some examples include the lorica squamata, a type of scale armor used by the ancient Roman military during the Roman Republic and at later periods, or the gyorin kozane used by the samurai in Japan.

But armor as old as what was found at the Yangai cemetery in Turfan is exceedingly rare, as few such sleeveless garments from antiquity have withstood the test of time. According to Live Science, only a 14th-century B.C. leather scale armor found at King Tutankhamun’s ancient Egyptian tomb and a Scythian armor dating from the 8th to 3rd century B.C. come close.

After reconstructing the newly described armor from China, archaeologists led by Patrick Wertmann, a researcher at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich, counted 5,444 small leather scales and 140 larger ones. All were made of cow rawhide and were arranged in horizontal, overlapping rows that were connected by leather laces.

Assyrian infantry archer (left) in scale armor depicted in a relief from the south west palace of Sennacherib (reigned 704-681 BCE) in Nineveh and
Assyrian cavalry archer in scale armor depicted in a relief from the palace of Assurbanipal (reigned 669-631 BCE) in Nineveh. Photos: The Trustees of the
British Museum.

Around 500 other burials were excavated from the ancient cemetery where the leather armor was found, with archaeological evidence suggesting it was in use for nearly 1,400 continuous years until the second century A.D. We know very little about the people who were buried there and used to live in the Tarim Basin more than 2,500 years ago. Archaeologists have named them the Cheshi people. They practiced agriculture, lived in tents, and likely kept cattle and sheep. Like other nearby cultures, they must have also been horse riders and archers.

The man from the burial site, however, may not have been Cheshi. There is no other scale armor from this period or earlier in China. This style, however, is quite common among the Persians and Scythians of the time. Even some Greeks wore them, although they preferred other styles of armor.

Although rife with speculation, the researchers believe the armor was most likely not made in China. From what they could gather, the archaeologists think instead that it was fashioned by Neo-Assyrian craftsmen, whose work can be found depicted in 7th century B.C. stone carvings. If this is true, then the Yanghai armor would constitute one of the earliest pieces of evidence of West-East technological transfers of the first millennium B.C.

As for the warrior whom the armor belongs to, things are even murkier. The design of the armor is proper for both mounted cavalrymen and foot soldiers. The presence of the horse cheek pieces suggests the man was of the former quality. The man could have been a Cheshi who imported the armor from the West through some means or a foreign soldier with Assyrian equipment come to fight in China.

The findings appeared in the journal Quaternary International.

Lobster’s tough underbelly could inspire next generation of highly flexible body armor

Credit: Pixabay.

Lobsters and other crustaceans are covered in a thick carapace that shields them against predators and general danger. But if you’ve ever flipped a lobster on its back, you might have noticed how the underside of the tail is covered in segments connected by a membrane. According to MIT researchers, this membrane is surprisingly tough, enabling the lobster to scrape against the jagged seafloor without injuring itself. It’s also highly flexible allowing the tail to move freely, making it a great inspiration for a new kind of body armor, particularly for mobile areas such as elbows and knees.

Soft but tough

Ideas for interesting new research often arise from the most unexpected places. Ming Guo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, was once having a lobster dinner when he noticed that the belly’s transparent membrane was difficult to chew. He wondered why and soon found out that no one was entirely sure.

So Guo and colleagues took it upon themselves to investigate the unusual properties of the material. They cut the membrane into very thin slices, each of which went through a series of experiments. Some slices were left in a small oven to dry before researchers measured their weight. This analysis showed that about 90% of the lobster’s membrane is water, making it a hydrogel.

Meanwhile, other samples were kept in a saline solution that mimicked the water found in an ocean environment. These samples were subjected to mechanical tests, which stretched the membrane with precisely controlled forces. The membrane was floppy and easily stretchable until it was elongated to twice its initial length, at which point the material stiffened and become tougher and tougher. This was surprising, seeing how most hydrogels get softer the more you stretch them. Guo thinks that this strain-stiffening behavior allows the lobster to move freely when it has to while allowing it to stiffen and protect itself in times of peril.

Lobsters are known for scraping against abrasive rocks and sand. When researchers used a scalpel to scratch the membrane samples, they found that it could still stretch equally far even when cutting through half its thickness. A rubber composite with similar properties would break under the same conditions.

Using electron microscopy, the MIT researchers zoomed in on the membrane to understand what made it so resilient. What they found was a structure resembling plywood, with each membrane being comprised of thousands of layers of chitin fibers. All the straw-like fibers are orientated at precisely the same 36-degree angle offset from the layer of fibers above.

“When you rotate the angle of fibers, layer by layer, you have good strength in all directions,” Guo says. “People have been using this structure in dry materials for defect tolerance. But this is the first time it’s been seen in a natural hydrogel.”

One riddle that Guo and colleagues are still trying to answer is how the fibers are guided into such a layered architecture. Once they understand the process, the researchers hope to mimic it to generate synthetic microstructures with similar properties. One application would involve a flexible body armor, but soft robotics and tissue engineering might find such a hydrogel appealing.

With such sophisticated hardware at its disposal, it’s no wonder that lobsters have been so successful.

“We think this membrane structure could be a very important reason for why lobsters have been living for more than 100 million years on Earth,” Guo says. “Somehow, this fracture tolerance has really helped them in their evolution.”

The findings were published in the Acta Materialia.

Heavily armored dino might’ve used its plates as status symbols, to attract mates, intimidate rivals

Dinosaurs’ thick, bony armor plates seem custom-tailored to absorb damage and deter predators. But a new paper describing the keratin layer adorning these plates in Borealopelta markmitchelli reports their armor might have had an even more important role: helping the dinos get some action.

Image credits Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Canada.

The bone plates of armored dinosaurs were covered in a more flexible tissue made predominantly of keratin. This formed all sorts of shapes and structures, such as caps and horns. Up to now, it’s been impossible for paleontologists to say how big or varied these structures are, simply because they almost never find them preserved in fossils.

We actually very rarely get a good impression of what dinosaurs outwardly looked like from fossils. The size, shape, and overall structure of the dinos you see in museum exhibits can be reliably observed from them. But stuff like their color, the texture of their skin or scales, the color of their eyes, those are, for the most part, our imagination at work. Fossilization requires quite a fair bit of luck and time, and the process involves high pressures, temperatures, as well as some pretty aggressive chemical substitutions. So by their very nature, fossils are bad at preserving the soft bits that give organisms their distinctive flair.

Researchers at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Canada, however, were lucky enough to get their hands on a Borealopelta markmitchelli fossil that beautifully preserves some of these characteristics. Discovered by a Suncor Energy mining machine operator Shawn Funk at an oil sand mine north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, it preserves not only the bony armor but also much of the layer of softer, keratin-rich tissue covering it.

The team reports that the structures are very reminiscent of the growth patterns of antelope horns and other defense-and-display structures in animals today, suggesting that dinosaurs did not shy away from using their looks to get attention.

“They might have been billboards, basically, to advertise for the animal,” says Caleb Brown, a vertebrate palaentologist at the museum.

One of kind

Armored dino.

This beast had a lot of armor. Scale bar is 10 cm / 4 in.
Image credits Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Canada.

This is actually the first B. markmitchelli ever found. The animal likely lived some 110 million years ago and belonged to the nodosaur family of dinos. Measuring in at some 5,5 meters (18 feet) in length, weighing over 1,300 kg (2,800 pounds), and clad in thick bone plates, this was a tank of a beast. Fortunately for us, it found its end in an environment that swallowed it up before fully decomposing. The fossil’s exquisite condition allowed Brown and his team to measure both the bone plates and keratin caps from the animal’s snout to the hips.

They report that the flat-ish bone plates closer to the animal’s tail were covered in a thin layer of keratin-rich material, likely there to protect it from wear and tear and provide some structural rigidity. This crust of keratin, however, got much thicker towards B. markmitchelli‘s shoulders and head. It formed large ornaments which capped the bone spikes on the dinosaurs’ neck plates, and represented up to one-third in length of the tusk-like spines on its shoulders. Wherever you look on the body, the taller the bone plate’s spikes jutted out, the thicker its keratin cap on top, according to the team.

Brown says this structure is very similar to what we see in horns and antlers today, both of which are used to fend off attackers but also serve to show off to potential mates and rivals. The fact that B. markmitchelli‘s most elaborate decorations are near the front of the animal (much like modern antlers and horns) also suggests that they were used for social signaling. Two male rivals facing off, for example, would have ample opportunity to see (and be intimidated by) each other’s thickest, most lavish stretch of armor.

All in all, these characteristics suggest that B. markmitchelli‘s spikes might have evolved (at least in part) as a means of social communication, a way for them to impress mates, scare off rivals, or both. However, Brown agrees that this remains largely speculative while working from a single specimen. We’ll have to find other fossils in a similarly good condition to know for sure.

Until then, the findings will further our understanding about the patterning on dinosaurs’ armor, and how it evolved over time. Previously, Brown showed evidence of countershading camouflage in use by the species, showing just how dangerous carnivorous dinosaurs must’ve been to force such a heavily armored beast into hiding.

The paper “An Exceptionally Preserved Three-Dimensional Armored Dinosaur Reveals Insights into Coloration and Cretaceous Predator-Prey Dynamics” has been published in the journal Current Biology.

This is why space armor is becoming more important

The European Space Agency recently shared this image of a tiny, 10-cm object that can wreak havoc in even the strongest space armor we have.

ESA space debris studies, an impact sample. This is the kind of damage even a small projectile can cause. Image credits: ESA.

There is a growing concern regarding the sheer number of random objects in outer space, be they natural or man-made. Needless to say, all these objects pose a great risk to spacecraft, because they typically travel at extremely high velocities. For instance, an object just 10 cm across would inflict catastrophic damage and potentially cause the disintegration of the target. This happens due to the extremely high velocities at which they travel, which can reach 15 km/s for space debris and 72 km/s for meteoroids. Just so you can make an idea, bullets almost never go above 400 meters per second, so debris travels about 37 times faster than a bullet.

Even extremely small objects can have a major impact. Recently, the ISS’ Cupola — the dreamy vantage point which astronauts use to take amazing pictures — was chipped by a paint flake or small metal fragment no bigger than a few thousandths of a millimetre across. The problem is not only the impact itself but also that the speed of these rogue objects causes additional shockwaves which further the damage. The ESA explains:

“Beyond 4 km/s (depending on the materials), an impact will lead to a complete break­up and melting of the projectile, and an ejection of crater material to a depth of typically 2–5 times the diameter of the projectile. In hypervelocity impacts, the projectile velocity exceeds the speed of sound within the target material. The resulting shockwave that propagates across the material is reflected by the surfaces of the target, and reverses its direction of travel. The superimposition of progressing and reflected waves can lead to local stress levels that exceed the material’s strength, thus causing cracks and/or the separation of spalls at significant velocities.”

This was caused by “possibly a paint flake or small metal fragment no bigger than a few thousandths of a millimetre across,” writes the ESA.

It’s counterintuitive, but big objects aren’t really as problematic as small objects. Larger objects can be tracked and studied and perhaps avoid — or at the very least, we can prepare for it. But smaller objects are virtually untraceable and can be quite surprising, striking out of nowhere. According to NASA, there are millions of pieces of debris or ‘space junk’ orbiting Earth. Recently the ESA shared its latest figures according to which there are around 5,000 objects larger than 1 meter in orbit, 20,000 larger than 10cm, and 750,000 larger than 1cm. All these pose a risk for all spacecraft, which is why researchers are trying to develop better and safer armor. Notably, the ESA is working on Whipple shields with aluminium and Nextel–Kevlar bumper layers.

Whipple shields are quite clever in their approach. They consist of a relatively thin outer bumper spaced some distance from the main spacecraft wall. This will cause a bumper which is not expected to stop the particle or even remove most of its energy, but rather to break it and disperse its energy, dividing the original particle into many fragments, spread across a greater surface. Intermediate fabric layers further slow the cloud particles. The original particle energy is spread more thinly over a larger wall area, which is more likely to withstand it. Nowadays, Whipple shields have reached a stage of maturity, so they’ll likely be incorporated into the next generation of spacecraft — potentially even SpaceX shuttles.

A 7.5 mm-diameter aluminium bullet was shot at 7 km/s towards the same ‘stuffed Whipple shield’ design used to protect the ATV and the other International Space Station manned modules. Image credits: ESA.

Future research will try to further our understanding of such impacts, because the risks get higher every day. If we want to start exploring Mars or other areas of the solar system, or even if we just want to secure Earth’s orbit for future spacecraft, armor is key. With every piece of spacecraft and satellite we launch. the risks get higher.

Israeli company designs anti-radiation body armor to protect astronauts in space

An Israeli-designed vest will keep astronauts on deep space missions safe(er) from deadly radiation levels, or at least that’s what developed StemRad hopes. To see how well it works, the company will test their vest on dummy astronauts during NASA’s 2018 mission around the Moon, a spokesperson said.

Image via YouTube

We’ve got it pretty good down here on Earth, radiation-wise. The planet’s strong magnetic field deflects most incoming cosmic rays, so life could evolve without those pesky side effects such as “shredded DNA” or “liquefying organs”. Which both tend to ruin your day.

But we’re planning on leaving the crib any time now, with NASA hoping to put a man on Mars around two decades from now, and even full colonization planned for the next century. Since we’d presumably very much like to keep our organs intact during this time, Tel Aviv-based company StemRad is looking into ways to protect astronauts from radiation in deep space.

They already have experience developing radiation shielding products, most notably a belt to protect rescue workers from harmful radiation emitted in nuclear disasters. They’re taking this expertise to space applications with the AstroRad Radiation Shield, a vest which will protect vulnerable tissues (particularly stem cells in pelvic bone marrow and internal organs) in deep space or other-wordly operations, where the lack of an atmosphere and magnetic field would put humans at risk.

The garment is created of overlapping layers which look like a topographic/contour map, and will be tailor-made for each astronaut. Non-metallic shielding materials (as lead would be too heavy) will be applied to cover the organs of each astronaut. Stemrad’s chief technologist, Gideon Waterman, said the vest needs to be dense enough to protect the crew while remaining flexible so they can move about as freely as possible.

“This product will enable human deep space exploration. Our breakthrough has come in creating the architecture of the multi-layered shield to accurately cover the most important organs,” said StemRad’s CEO Oren Milstein.

So, does it work?

Well, the company says computer simulations and laboratory trials shows it works, but the true test is outer space. So the vest will be taken on an unmanned flight to the Moon in the maiden voyage of the Orion spacecraft,  a joint project of Lockheed Martin, NASA and the European Space Agency. The mission is scheduled for late 2018.

During the lunar flyby, the vest will be strapped to a dummy torso which will monitor radiation absorption. A control dummy will fly without the vest so the team can compare the readings and determine how effective the shield is.

“Based on our simulations, we’re sure it works but to be 100 percent sure, we’re sending it up on EM-1,” he said, referring to NASA’s first flight of the Orion capsule.

Orion will have its own radiation shelter to protect crews from dangerous bursts of radiation during solar flares or storms. The vest should complement this protection and allow astronauts to keep safe in less-shielded parts of the craft, Mistein says. Some mock-ups of the vests have already been produced, and the first prototype is expected by the end of the year, he added.

NASA had no immediate comment on how the test could be affected if the agency decided to put astronauts on Orion.

Composite metal foam better at stopping bullets than solid plates

After developing metal aerogels, foams and glass (here and here) researchers have found yet another novel way to structure these substances. Composite metal foam (CMF) is a type of material created by incorporating hollow beads of one metal into a substrate cast from another. Considering their low density, you could be fooled into assuming that they’re very flimsy. But they boast impressive physical characteristics — they can even stop armor piercing bullets.

Check out this video North Carolina State University recently uploaded to their YouTube channel.

The video shows a 7.62 x 63 mm standard-issue M2 armor piercing bullet, fired at the plate according to the testing procedures established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The plate, less than one inch thick, was tough enough to turn the bullet to dust. While solid metal plates of similar thickness would also be able to stop the projectile, the test CMF plate actually performed better at the task. Not bad for what is essentially metal Swiss cheese.

Afsaneh Rabiei, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, explains:

“We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters,” he says.

“To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor.”

As a bonus, they’re also lighter than metal plating. So there’s obviously a lot of interest in creating new types of body and vehicle armor based on them.

But what if even incredibly light and strong just doesn’t cut it? What if you need to haul nuclear waste around or need a material that can withstand the enormous temperatures of atmospheric re-entry? CMFs can help with that too.

Last year, aided by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Rabiei showed that these materials are very effective at shielding X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation. Rabiei independently published his work demonstrating that these metal foams handle fire and heat twice as well as the plain metals they are made of earlier this year.

A full paper of the ballistic properties of CMFs, with the title “Ballistic performance of composite metal foams” has been published online in the journal Composite Structures and can be read here.

 

 

500 million year old worm had impressive spiky armor

Paleontologists working in China have discovered fossils of an impressively armored worm that lived during the Cambrian, 500 million years ago. Called  Hairy Collins’ Monster, this is one of the first creatures to develop a spiky armor.

Collinsium ciliosum. Image credit: Jie Yang.

Today, the 180 species of velvet worms are pretty similar – they have tiny eyes, antennae, multiple pairs of legs, and slime glands. They live in dark, moist environments and usually use their saliva to immobilize their prey; all in all, you could say that they look like… worms. But their ancestors were much more hardcore than this – they were hairy, thorny, and dangerous.

“Modern velvet worms are all pretty similar in terms of their general body organization and not that exciting in terms of their lifestyle. But during the Cambrian, the distant relatives of velvet worms were stunningly diverse and came in a surprising variety of bizarre shapes and sizes,” said Dr Javier Ortega-Hernández from the University of Cambridge, UK, a co-author of the paper published today in the journal PNAS.

 

The 8.5-centimeter-long worm had 15 segments and lived on the bottom of the seafloor in shallow waters. The first 6 segments had hair-like structures, while the 9 ones from behind had claws. Because the claws would have not been useful at all on the seafloor, paleontologists believed it clung to rocks or other hard surfaces and simply filtered current water for nutrients.

Image via Sci News.

Given this sedentary lifestyle, Collinsium ciliosum would have been a sitting duck for predators, so it did what any responsible creature in the Cambrian did: it developed a strong defense: its body built the protective claws and spikes.

The species resembles Hallucigenia, another otherworldly creature that lived during the Cambrian. During the Cambrian, there was a biodiversity explosion, with incredibly diverse and strange creatures filling up every environmental niche. However many of them didn’t have any evolutionary success.

“Animals during the Cambrian were incredibly diverse, with lots of interesting behaviors and modes of living,” Dr Ortega-Hernández said. Collinsium ciliosum was one of these evolutionary experiments – one which ultimately failed as they have no living direct ancestors – but it’s amazing to see how specialized many animals were hundreds of millions of years ago.”

 

 

Polish researchers develop liquid body armor

The future is here – scientists at a Polish company have developed a liquid body armor. Technically speaking, it’s a non-Newtonian shear-thickening fluid (STF) that is lighter than current body armor materials, and might resists the impact better than Kevlar.

Newtonian fluids (like water for example) don’t change their properties depending on external stress or shear. For non-Newtonian fluids (for example a mixture of starch and water), the viscosity depends on the shear applied to it. In the STF technology they’ve developed, the material becomes much more viscous as a specific type of pressure is applied – say, a bullet.

“This viscosity increases thanks to the subordination of the particles in the liquid structure, therefore they form a barrier against an external penetrating factor,” said Karolina Olszewska, who performed tests on the STF for Moratex, the company that developed the armor.

Basically, when a projectile reaches the armor, it strengthens automatically, spreading the force of impact over a much greater area, diverting it away from the wearer’s internal organs. Of course, the composition of the material haven’t been made public by the company, but they did share their ballistic tests, which proved amazing resistance to a wide range of projectiles.

“We needed to find, design a liquid that functions both with projectiles hitting at the velocity of 450 meters per second and higher. We have succeeded,” said Deputy Director for Research at the Moratex institute, Marcin Struszczyk.


Actually implementing it on body armor designs would require making pockets of this liquid at regular intervals and at specific indentations, but according to the company, this could easily work because they are also significantly lighter than Kevlar or other options available at the moment.

“The point is for them not to interfere, not change the way of movement, operation of such the product by the user, and at the same time increase their motor skills, increase effectiveness of their decision process and increase their possibilities during the mission at hand,” Struszczyk said.

But aside for military uses, this type of materials could have many other uses. If it can be made cheaply, it could also be used on car bumpers or road protective barriers, and even in sports.

Archaeologists find 3.900 year old armor made from bones

Archaeologists are intrigued by the discovery of a complete and well preserved warrior armor made from bones. This highly valuable find was probably a war trophy, and was worn by an elite warrior or warchief. The armour was in ‘perfect condition’, and nothing similar was ever found in the area (or anywhere else).

bone

It was buried separate from its owner, and was found around Omsk, in south-western Siberia. It is probably an artifact from the Krotov culture, which is well documented in the area. The Krotov were animal breeders in the steppe and forest-steppe area of the Western Siberia Altai mountainous area of Russia. However, this armor seems more like something made by the Samus-Seyminskaya culture, who inhabited an area 1000 km southwest of the find. If this is indeed the case, then the armor may have been a gift or perhaps spoils of war.

Boris Konikov, curator of excavations, said:

‘It is unique first of all because such armour was highly valued. It was more precious than life, because it saved life.Secondly, it was found in a settlement, and this has never happened before. There were found separate fragments in burials, like on Rostovka burial ground.’

bone2

Archaeologists still haven’t figured out what from what animal bones the armor was made, but that should be fairly easy to figure out – after it is washed and cleaned.

‘We ourselves can not wait to see it, but at the moment it undergoing restoration, which is a is long, painstaking process. As a result we hope to reconstruct an exact copy’, Boris Konikov said.

It’s not clear if the armor was used in combat or if it was more a trophy, but archaeologists believe it definitely would have been useful in fights. But one thing is for sure – due to its rarity and the difficulty of craftsmanship, the armor almost certainly belonged to a ‘hero’, a warrior of legendary status.

‘While there is no indication that the place of discovery of the armour was a place of worship, it is very likely. Armour had great material value. There was no sense to dig it in the ground or hide it for a long time – because the fixings and the bones would be ruined. Such armour needs constant care. At the moment we can only fantasise – who dug it into the ground and for what purpose. Was it some ritual or sacrifice? We do not know yet.’

bone4

The site where the armor was found also included a complex series of monuments belonging to different epochs. There are settlements, burial grounds, and manufacturing sites. Burials have been found here from the  Early Neolithic period to the Middle Ages. The main, long term goal is to preserve and promote the site, helping the nearby community in the process.

‘Our goal is to save the site, to research it and to promote it. We organise excursions for schoolchildren and draw the attention of citizens to this unique site.’