Visit any weekend market (AKA: Trash ‘n Treasure, Car Boot Sale, Flea Market, and whatever other names there are for the festive assemblage of cars stuffed full of the family’s flotsam and jetsam to be flogged to anyone who just might be interested in buying someone else’s junk rejects) and you can get a preview of the archeological digs of the future. Of course these parking lot markets won’t be the actual sites of future digs — I’m banking on the huge shopping centers for that. The weekend markets merely offer us a fleeting glimpse of the detritus of the day/year/decade.
So, what will future archeologists make of us?
I’ve been trolling through some articles on various archaeological digs and some of the ancient treasures being uncovered in places such as Egypt and Greece, and it got me thinking. Always a dangerous occupation for me. You may recall that I mentioned in a recent post that a ring once belonging to Alexander the Great had been pinched from an exhibition in Israel . . . an exhibition featuring ancient artifacts that had been recovered from the black market. And not only is there a thriving black market for ancient treasures, (see for yourself); and websites aplenty if you wish to purchase an ancient artifact online, but there are serious diplomatic squabbles between nations over the right to possess ancient icons pinched from their home land. The Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles, to mention only a couple. So now I look around me at the collection of clutter consuming my study at the moment and wonder just which item amongst it all would attract the highest price on a future antiquities black market in, say 3010. Given that I’m in a room which houses mostly only an assortment of books and technology toys, there isn’t much to choose from. I’m betting on the I ♥ Idaho coffee mug (now full of memory sticks). Archeologists and antiquities addicts are always suckers for pottery.
Technology trinkets aside, what are our shopping centers and landfills full of? Let me put it another way: of the mountain of stuff (that’s archeological jargon for ‘stuff’) we accumulate daily/weekly/yearly, what amongst it all is worthy of nations squabbling over, worth preserving as a symbol of who we are? Where is the beautiful architecture, the stunning sculpture? While the archeologists are uncovering and recreating the ancient buildings and cities and tools of civilizations long gone, their close cousins, the anthropologists are weaving an account of the communities and the lifestyles of the people who built and used those treasures. Click here for an example.
Perhaps in 3010 the people who pore over the remains of our shopping centers and our sports arenas will be amazed by sport shoes that pump up and light up, awed by the odd collection of kitchen gadgets — what will they say of our salad spinners? I reckon the whipper snipper will be a black market fave. Most of the stuff that remains long after we are gone will be stuff made of synthetic materials, hence, most of our stuff. The problem won’t be finding the evidence of our lifestyle. The problem will be making sense of it.
A word about My Relic (pictured above):
A few years ago I embarked on a project — to make a chess set for the courtyard (having already had the ‘checkerboard’ built into the courtyard paving). My original aim was to turn the pieces from wood, but that required very large (and expensive) pieces of wood. Unrealistic. I got as far as turning two pawns. Then three years ago I came up with the idea of making the pieces from Hebel blocks (Hebel is a lightweight, aerated concrete product that is easy to carve.) Anyway, I decided to make the hardest pieces first — namely the knights — I’ve got as far as carving one piece — I still harbor an ambition to complete the set sometime before this one becomes a real relic… My grandsons were rather impressed that their grandma had made such a thing. Young Brendan (then age 7) exclaimed “Wow, Grandma! You know, this could be a relic!” I’m limited by the dimensions of the block, so this one measures 8 inches by 8 inches by 24inches tall. You don’t want to know how much it weighs. I’m thinking of turning it into a chess-set-on-wheels . . . MM