A Peculiar Past

August 24, 2010
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Two lone explorers swept their eyes across the desert landscape. The sun was at its peak in the sky, heating the explorers until the lenses of their black glasses were too hot to touch. In this exact spot, thousands of years ago, the burning star would have been revered as a god, the ruler of the sky.
Some rocky hills that the explorers had taken an interest in were before them, underneath which they had found a hidden tomb deep under the sand. The layers in the sand and dirt were perfectly preserved, indicating that this tomb was made in Egypt’s early history. Today, the explorers were continuing to excavate the artifacts, to later examine then at their campsite.
The young women explored through the musty tomb under the earth, its whittled walls perfectly carved into an arc. Inscriptions on the walls beheld colourful pictures and symbols.
Carolina was awed by all the gold—so much of it. The statues were trimmed with colourful jewels, and in the light of her lantern, the gold gleamed a haunting orange. Carolina was especially interested in all the jewellery, and since she and her sister were the first to find the tomb, she took two of the elaborate boxes with divine scenes on them to examine at the campsite. There was even a pendant shaped like a scarab, with wings adorned in turquoise.
Marguerita was amazed by the jewellery, but what really caught her eye were the hieroglyphs on the walls. She took out her notebook and copied them down precisely, walking down the sides of the tomb. On the table she was approaching were colourful amulets, some made of jasper and emerald. She recorded inscriptions on those as well. And last but not least, at the back of the tomb was the king. Although not as impressive as the later, highly detailed coffins, this one still had enough gold to make one extremely rich. The girls watched the imposing mask stare up at them, its wise, black eyes boring through them.
After Marguerita gathered enough inscriptions from the canopic jars, where the king’s organs were kept, and the ushabtis, tiny figurines that were meant to be servants of the king in the afterlife, and when Carolina gathered enough jewellery and even a crown, the girls left the cool, arid tomb.
When the sisters returned to the camp carrying bags filled with delicately wrapped artifacts, they headed straight into their tent to examine their finds.
A few hours in to their studious work of translating hieroglyphs and analysing treasure, Carolina found something very peculiar.
“Marguerita?” she asked her sister in a severe tone.
Marguerita took a quick drink of water, then left her desk, “You didn’t break anything, did you?” she enquired, stepping up behind Carolina. She tried not to appear worried. But if they broke an ancient artifact, then the archaeologist officials would take away their permit.
Carolina shook her head, and Marguerita let out a sigh of relief—good, her younger sister did not lose them their professions. “Then what is it?” Marguerita asked.
In front of Carolina was an archaic pot, probably meant to hold water, with carvings of snakes embossed in the clay. Carolina pointed out a spot just under the handle. Drawing up a folding chair, Marguerita examined the pot carefully and saw a flicker of something shiny under the handle. Taking a closer look, she realized it was a...
“A microchip?” Marguerita exclaimed. Both girls stuck their heads close to the pot, leaning off their chairs in curiosity. Mixed in to the clay churned thousands of years ago, was a stained metal piece with complicated wiring, seeming to be from a modern computer. The girls looked at each other inquisitively.
“You don’t think someone went to the tomb before us, do you?” enquired Carolina. She saw no other viable explanation.
Marguerita shook her head. “No,” she replied, “We were the first ones since the tomb was closed. When we dug through the sand, the layers were untouched and showed no signs of mix for thousands of years.”
“Yes,” Carolina agreed reluctantly, “And the actual tomb was still sealed from any outside air so no oxygen could erode the artifacts.”
The girls were silent, puzzled by this defiance of Egyptian history.
The Marguerita had an idea. “Although this would essentially destroy the pot, we could remove the ‘microchip,’ if that’s what it is, and then run it through our electronic reader,” she suggested.
Carolina frowned, knowing that if anyone ever found out, she and her sister could never be archaeologists again. But if no one found out...
“If we don’t tell anyone,” Carolina started, “Then I suppose we should find the meaning of this fallacy.”
Marguerita nodded, glad her sister agreed. She knew this must be some sort of paradox, perhaps a decorative earring fell from a woman’s ear while mixing the clay. Marguerita left Carolina to cut the metal out of the pot, damaging it as little as possible, while she continued surveying the hieroglyphs. The writings on the walls were strange, and she would have to study them more later, but the canopic jars and coffins inscriptions were the same as many others—texts to guide the deceased to the afterlife.
Later that day, Carolina finished dexterously cutting out the ‘microchip’ from the ancient pottery.
“I examined the pottery, and other than this,” Carolina held up the peculiar metal piece, “The pottery seems to date to the Old Kingdom. In fact, even this should date to the Old Kingdom, so it must be some ironically modern-looking piece of metal.” Marguerita nodded in agreement, and picked up the chip from her sister’s hand. Except for a few pieces of pottery, the ‘electronic’ seemed to have come out of a computer.
Carolina smiled indecisively, “I’m baffled. This is beyond anything I’ve learned.”
Marguerita agreed. She brought it over to her desk and opened her electronic reader. It was a new machine that read almost any electronic placed inside. Inside, a laser would scan the object and give the information on the screen on the top of the closed box. Marguerita opened the machine and placed the chip on a shiny metal tray, then closed the lid.
“There’s still some pottery on it, so it might not work,” Carolina added.
“No, no!” Marguerita, the electronic reader expert, announced, “If the reader was big enough, we could put the whole pot in! The laser goes through anything, even concrete.”
“Good!” Carolina said, then pressed the reading button on the machine. Knowing from past experience that this was no quick process, the sisters returned to their translating and investigative work.
Carolina studied gold-cuffed bracelets decorated with images of the Egyptian gods. She dated the material to around the year 2200 BC, the same as the pot.
Finally, a beep interjected its presence, announcing that the chip was read.
Carolina was the first to run to the machine as a line of ones and zeros appeared on the display. Marguerita pressed a few buttons and the entire text filled the screen in comprehensible English.
Carolina and Marguerita, it read, We know you will find this, for if you didn’t, it would not exist. Religion in Ancient Egypt is not based on nothing. We were the gods.
And the writing ended there. Marguerita hastily punched in a few keys, trying to detect if there was anything else on the chip. There was not.
The girls were dumbfounded, but a foreboding truth was creeping up behind them.
“In the future...” Carolina started.
“People went to Ancient Egypt,” finished Marguerita with a smile. “I want to say it’s impossible, but this truly makes sense. It is strange that such an advanced civilization would be so fixated on the supernatural in just about every aspect of their lives. But if people came from the future, that would solve the problem immediately. Future travellers would be gods to an ancient civilization.”
Carolina nodded, coming to terms with the bizarre idea. “And they would have known we’d find this,” she point to the machine holding the chip inside, “After all, we are in their past.”
Marguerita removed the chip from the electronic reader. “No one would believe us,” Marguerita sighed, “We could have easily created this as a hoax.”
“Yes, but would we want to tell anyone? We can report that the pot just had a small crack in it,” Carolina reasoned. She did not like the idea of alerting the world that they were going to invent time travel.
“You’re right,” agreed Marguerita. She tucked the chip in her pocket. “The text from the walls makes sense now. It speaks of gods appearing out of nothing. But it was anything but gods. Little did the Egyptians know that they were seeing their ancestors.”
The events of the past shape the future, but the girls now knew that the future also shapes the past.
How much more of the past have the future generations created?





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