Museum of London archaeologists have unearthed a Roman eagle, regarded as one of the finest Romano-British sculptures ever found, discovered in near pristine condition on a site in the City of London
An "exceptional" Roman sculpture of an eagle clasping a serpent in its beak has been discovered by archaeologists in the final hours of a dig at a London building site.
Experts have declared that the object, which was found in the City of London in September, before the site's redevelopment into a 16-storey hotel, is "the finest sculpture by a Romano-British artist ever found in London".
Archaeologists also unearthed foundations of a mausoleum on the east London site and believe that the statue, dating from the first or second century AD and made from oolitic limestone from the Cotswolds, once adorned it.
It is said to be in such good condition - details such as the forked tongue of the snake and the individual feathers of the eagle remain - that archaeologists could not believe it was 1900 years old and were initially hesitant to announce the find until it had been seen by several experts.
The sculpture features an eagle grasping a writhing serpent in its beak and is thought to symbolise the struggle of good (the eagle) against evil (the snake).