Early Western childbirth image found by blind student

                (Image: Phil Perkins)

This image of a woman giving birth could be one of the earliest in Western art, say its discoverers. The relief lies on a small fragment of a pot at least 2600 years old that was found in Poggio Colla, an ancient Etruscan site near Florence, Italy.

The find was uncovered by student William Nutt of the University of Texas at Arlington. He is legally blind, but says he doesn't view his sight as an impediment to his research.

"I used dental tools and a sharpened trowel to slide along the ground. I'd run my hands along the soil, feeling and uncovering different layers," Nutt said in a statement. "The image is unique because in the classical world, we don't see a lot of birthing scenes."

Nutt found the fragment in June, and the researchers' findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in January.