Am I tired? Am I sublimating? Who can say. What I do know is that, in the year since the pandemic started, I’ve cleaned and reorganized my basement at least three times and it doesn’t seem like neither it nor I have been better for it.
Cleaning the basement was just one step in my regular transformation from the attic to the basement to the garage and around, in a three-card house. High school track title. Book study notes, has been two decades. Matchbox cars – distorted, chipped – since I was 7. Never leave, it just disappeared for a while behind another door.
Some of them have emotional value. Much of it, I am pleased to dispose of it not for the stinging fact that it will take forever to decompose. My time on Earth is limited, alas, but my stuff will last for decades (matchbox cars), centuries (Genesis’s LP vinyls) or more (Legos, whatever Who?). If I could take it with me, I would save tomorrow’s archaeologists from encountering it and the belongings of every other basement, self-storage lockers and landfills around the world since when the time begins.
Archaeologists today were very busy sifting through until yesterday. They recently found in Italy a 2,000-year-old marble head of emperor Augustus. In Poland, a sword may have been used at the Battle of Grunwald on 15 July 1410, in which the Poles-Lithuanian troops defeated the Knights of the Teutonic Order. In a cave in Mexico, 1,200-year-old handprints, red and black, of Maya children. In Switzerland, at the bottom of Lake Lucerne, remains of a Bronze Age village.
In early April, a cartographer in Sweden stumbled across a well-preserved warehouse of bronze artifacts – necklaces, brooches, bracelets, and anklets – dating back 2,500 years. The objects lying on the forest floor, outside the cave of an animal are not a bit shy about cleaning the house. “It all looks very new,” said the man. “I think they’re fake.”
It is the rare scholar who unearthed a beautiful pyramid, like Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan in “The Dig”, a Viking ship – something great, intentionally buried. Most archeology refers to rubbish: rubbish, junk, which doesn’t deserve a second life but there is one thing nonetheless, like the ghost of past culture. There is greatness in it; as the poet AR Ammon wrote, “trash must be the poem of our time because / garbage is the spirit.”
But the soul only helps you so far. Recently, in North Macedonia, archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a rich woman buried on a copper bed. She’s long gone, but the bed – gorgeously decorated with the heads of mermaids, or perhaps a fairy-tale – remains, the first bed of its time to be found intact. and in place. The researchers say it will be researched, created and displayed for “the whole world can see”.
That’s just what my basement and I need, the whole world watching. Would you be able to find me 78,000 years ago, like the earliest human burial place in Africa, with just the crumbs of a pillow under my head. But if you don’t want to wait that long, drop by and, for $ five, check out: Man Entombed in Cellar, c. 2021. I hope I’ll be here at least until the end of the week.
Science in The Times, 96 years ago today
The feminine fingers that have been entrusted with the delicate work have now begun sifting through the contents of the vases found during the excavation of the French-American expedition’s reserve at Tanit and selected to Later research on burned children’s bones was located there more than 2,000. years ago, perhaps by Carthage mothers, who sacrificed their children for this goddess Punic.