I have always been fascinated with archeology. The findings of our ancient world and what they could mean to us in the time. In Mississippi I remember looking at the southern submarine they raised from the mouth of the Yazoo River. Those men sitting scrunched up with their hand cranks. Our forefathers were very ingenious. I have written a fictional short story that i hope you enjoy reading. You might have figured out by my previous statements it has something to do with archeology, but you wouldn’t have figured it doesn’t have anything at all to do with that submarine.
I’m falling through the earth. It feels like a giant slide, and I never reach the bottom. What is going on? I hear chanting, and I can’t get my eyes open. I can’t move, what is happening to me? I can’t open my mouth, but my mind is screaming. Can I move my hand? I can turn it slightly but not lift it. I feel cold stone. I’m lying on stone. The chanting is louder, I have to open my eyes, but I can’t make them open.
I am Dr. Mary Danvers, from The University of Virginia Archeology Department. For the past three years, I’ve been the Chair of the Archeology Department. I’m in Guatemala studying the ritual sacrifices of the Aztec. My love affair with archeology began as a child, when my father and I found a piece of gold jewelry. It was a gold nugget with a tie, which would let it be worn around the neck. When my father had the tie radio tested, it shows the age to be AD 620.
My father was strict and extremely straitlaced when it came to rules and regulations. That reason in itself made it difficult for me to understand what my father did the day we found the nugget necklace. He stuck it in his pocket and never mentioned again. The Oxford Archeology Department who was funding my father’s dig made it known that everything found was to be cataloged and turned in. In effect, he stole a nugget necklace that belonged to the university.
My father died six months ago, and as I was going through his safe-deposit box, I found the necklace. I’d forgotten all about it. I’m one of those out of sight, out of mind, kind of people. As soon as I touched it, I knew I’d be returning to the site where the necklace was found.
I made it to the site within three months. There was a force driving me that I couldn’t understand. Everything in my life seems to have led to this moment in time. My years of study about the Inca’s and their belief system would give me information that kept driving me forward.
They worshipped the dead, ancestors, founding culture heroes, their king whom they regarded as divine, nature and its cycles. The worship of nature and its cycles suggest that for them time, and space were sacred, and consequently the calendar was religious, and each month had its own festival.
Another part of Inca religious life was divination. Everything, from illness, to the investigation of crimes, or the definition of what sacrifices should be made to what gods, was all done by consulting the oracles, observing in a dish the meandering of a spider, or disposition of coca leaves, by drinking ayahuasca (a hallucinogen), or even by examining the markings on the lungs of a sacrificed llama.
On special occasions, human sacrifice was practiced, or to ward off a natural disaster. We found where 200 children were sacrificed when a new king ascended to the throne. Adults as well as their animals served as sacrifices also.
My eyes are opening and I can see what is going on around me. I’m naked lying on cold stone. Men and woman are on their knees bowing towards me and chanting something. A man is walking around the stone. He has to be their religious leader. He has on a robe of bright-colored feathers and a headdress that looks like a crown of feathers. He is holding up the nugget necklace, and a straight blade knife with a gold handle for all to see, then bends down to my face and places the necklace around my neck. Everyone cheers. I know what is happening. I’m going to be their sacrifice. I still can’t speak. This can’t be real the Inca civilization is gone. I know they’re gone and have been for a thousand years. All this feels real, I can’t move my body and that man is coming at me with something that looks like a cockatoo head. No, No, I’m not drinking it, I’m not. He holds my nose, and I feel liquid fire going down into my stomach. The world is fading from sight.
“Dr. Danvers, Dr. Danvers, wake up. Can you hear me, Dr. Danvers?”
One of my students is sitting by my bedside holding my hand as I slowly open my eyes. I could see I was in my tent. What has happened to me?
“We found you by the entrance to the pyramid. You had a high fever and were delirious, ranting about birds and feathers and a gold nugget.”
“I’m wearing a gold nugget necklace that my father found here when I was a child.” I put my hand to my neck but could not find the necklace. “What happened to my necklace?”
“Doctor, you were’nt wearing a necklace when you were found. We did find a gold handled knife by your side.”
“What did you say?”
“We found a knife by your side.”
I know I had that necklace around my neck. Was what happened to me real? It couldn’t have been, but the necklace is gone and the knife is here. The necklace was used in their sacrifices, but so was the knife. What happened makes no sense. Maybe I will find out the meaning in time.