What might a future archaeological dig reveal about how the Wimperlys lived in 2016? I was pondering that deep thought recently as I tripped over a deer antler. Our dog’s idea of treat nirvana is to gnaw for hours on these ungulate discards. We’ve rewarded Skye with many over the years and they never actually disappear because they are virtually indestructible – perfect for a dog hell-bent on obliterating her chew-toys. When she’s extracted every last DNA molecule of marrow from the antler, Skye buries it somewhere in the house. Under a bed, in the corner of a closet, in a secret hidey-hole known only to her.
Future archaeologists – real life Hercule Poirots who unearth fragile clues to past civilizations – would conclude that people in the early 21st century lived with deer.
One of my favourite columnists is The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten. An entertaining piece from a couple of years ago involved aliens from “Stardate 4017.9” decoding deep-space transmissions. They’d intercepted a collection of crossword puzzles from The New York Times and based on word frequency, the extra-terrestrials constructed what they believed to be an accurate portrait of Earth’s unusual society. Weingarten wrote, “The practice of medicine is exceedingly primitive, limited almost exclusively to a single herbal remedy of dubious value. All ailments appear to be treated by the application of a fragrant leaf-paste called ‘aloe.’ We conclude that a leading cause of death in this society is reptile bite because the planet seems to be overrun by venomous snakes called ‘asps.’
The most popular sport is jai alai. People pay to watch someone called ‘Bobby Orr’ perform something called ‘hockey.’ Whatever his skill, it is apparently unique and non-competitive because we detect no evidence that anyone else has ever participated in hockey.” If you’re a crossword puzzle fan like me, you’ll appreciate Weingarten’s droll observations and his thesis that the aliens would conclude – based on sheer ubiquity – that Yoko Ono was the most famous person in the world.
Similarly, archaeologists from 20,000 years hence – with only the artifacts from the Wimperly excavation as clues – might record these observations in their journal:
Artifact #1: Located a saucer-shaped transmitter and initially were uncertain of its use or significance. Painstaking decoding of ancient written communication revealed the words “First Alert” etched into plastic. The device seems to have been powered by an archaic energy source called a “Duracell” and appears to have been set off frequently. Judging by the extreme wear and tear on the sensors, we have conjectured these simple people had indoor fires, or at least generated a lot of smoke for some as yet undetermined purpose.
Artifact #2: Unearthed a chrome box with a handle. On its front, a primitive keypad displays an antediluvian numbering system; we have deduced the digits 1:00 to 9:59 are increments of ancient time. The gadget appears to have been used to cook various foodstuffs. Judging by the remaining trace residue, we conclude people were able to tell that the food was ready when it splattered all over the inside of the box.
Artifacts # 3 – 160: Discovered a cache of implements in the remains of a sectioned wooden box. Like Cro-Magnon and Neanderthals from eons earlier, these nascent people also used a variety of tools. We have been able to determine the purpose of all but one. Clearly the most critical tool to these people, based on the sheer numbers we unearthed, is a twisted metal utensil – pictured. More research and testing is required to verify its purpose. Of note, the remains of many glass bottles were found in the vicinity of this particular implement, so we believe there may be a causal connection between the items.
Artifacts 161 & 162: Exhumed the remains of what we initially classified as a couch and a bed. Rigorous testing and sampling of the materials have revealed significant traces of canine hair, leading us to surmise that furniture was constructed for animals’ benefit and comfort. We also recovered thousands of primitive digital images of the dog resting on furniture. There are significantly fewer images of humans on the same furniture. Based on the evidence gathered at this particular site, we theorize that the dog was the dominant species in this civilization. This is, of course, contrary to current scientific thinking, but based on what we found, it is the only logical conclusion. We also found two bowls placed side by side; one likely would have held water and the other a hard, kibble-like substance that we believe would have been fed to the humans.
We continue to excavate the Wimperly site with hopes of adding to the growing collection of early 21st century curios. All are providing fascinating, unique insights into their primitive way of life.
FEATURE PHOTO: REINDEER REPRINTED FROM FOTOMOODS.COM WITH PERMISSION FROM DENE ROSSOUW.
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