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It took some time to get used to it and really believe it.Another, even larger hole, as wide as a man and nearer to the ground, was located about 7 meters right of the first cluster of holes and belonged to another tree. Its hollow shape was gently curved and let easily imagine the trunk or a major branch that was itself branching into two parts.Unfortunately, I was then told that the site was not important enough and besides that, impossible to protect.There was no a comment on the possibility to have etc. I informed professor Walter Friedrich who came as soon as he could free himself from teaching and we visited the site again in February 2003.Bringing a ladder seemed too difficult and risky, so we decided we would try it by standing on each oach other's shoulder. Peter climbed on my shoulder, so his own shoulder was at the height of the hole and he could begin digging away the pumice around the piece of wood, which was falling around me. Peter dug pumice away around the branch as much as he could reach, which took a while.Finally, we realized that the branch was curved and still stuck deep inside, refusing to get loose.
It made the cover of Science in 2006, but the story behind starts 4000 years ago, or on a personal scale, in late 2002.Virtually all vegetation and wood present in man-built structures seems to have been burnt,- despite intense geological, archaeological research, excavations and mining on the island for about 200 years, no significant amounts of preserved wood, organic material or charcoal from the time of the eruption have been recovered (although once found and tragically lost, but this is another story,- read Walter's book...!) Unfortunately, because it would have provided geologists and archaeologist with a means to determine the precise age of the eruption using the C-14 radiocarbon method.Immediately I thought about a tree that once must have stood here, but didn't hope much to find charcoal or other remnants - so far, virtually none had been found anywhere during many decades of research.The bigger my surprise and joy, when I came closer: one of the first things I noticed was a dark piece of wood beneath one of the larger holes.