October 23, 2021

An Exciting Archaeological Find — Or It Will Be

In foreground: crest of the natural mound containing possible buried pit house.

A guest post from the far future:

Allow me to begin by congratulating my new collegue Mazakan Petasuta on passing her final examinations and earning her degree of Superba in archaeology. She will be joining the Department of Ancient Studies here at Iron Lightning Regional University at the beginning of the fall term.

She is already in the planning stages of a new excavation at a site about 375 versti to the northeast, a recently discovered pit house of a little-known type. It took a sharp eye to recognize that the depression in this small ridge was not a natural feature, and, of course, the original structure is below the Dust and other wind-deposited materials.

Her initial trench, however,  revealed metallic traces suggestive of artisanal work with ferrous materials, as well as domestic items such as buttons. Fortunately, the overall site is small enough that a student crew should be able to exacavate it completely in a matter of weeks.

Most significant—and this ties into my own work with the Anhydrous Ammonia Cultural Complex—are the two plaques found adjacent to the apparent pithouse. Originally on tall, sturdy fireproof pillars, they projected far enough into the Dust deposits that subsequent heavy rains washed them clear. The two scripts in which they are written suggest that they were not contemporary with each other. In addition, the scripts match many found at AACC sites.

I have been working for several years cataloging the anhydrous ammonia containers found at what perhaps are isolated strongholds of rural clan chiefs. Such containers are not found in the ruins of ancient cities, at least so far. My colleagues in chemistry point out that this substance can release combustible gases, so possibly these gases were produced for lighting or heating.

Should Professor Petasuta find any evidence for anhydrous ammonia in her pit house, that would permit me to extend the AACC's beginnings farther into the post. 

Ciqala Ikiliki, senior archaeological fellow


PBurns said...

Could the Anhydrous Ammonia Cultural Complex be where the house Shaman sat and where the off-gas fumes resulted in visions? This may have been part of their spiritual and religious practice — a bit like the Oracle at Delphi with the ethylene gas. See >> https://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/19/science/for-delphic-oracle-fumes-and-visions.html

Chas S. Clifton said...

An enthusiastic younger colleague with an interest in entheogens once suggested something similiar. I would offer these possible counter-arguments: If the gases were imbibed by medicine person and clients or visitors, we could expect to find some sort of structure where they congregated. Yet the containers are all located at some distance from structures — a practice that I personally attribute to a desire to reduce the risk of explosion damaging a barn or dwelling.